Hong Kong is an international city. To increase our competitiveness in the international arena and to enhance our role in fostering exchange and stronger ties with Mainland China, we need to nurture talents who are proficient in both Chinese and English.
The language education policy of the Government of the HKSAR aims to enable our students to become biliterate and trilingual. We expect that our secondary school graduates will be proficient in writing Chinese and English and able to communicate confidently in Cantonese, English and Putonghua.
To realise this vision and to sustain the city’s competitive edge, we must help students acquire a solid language foundation and sophisticated communication skills. Therefore, it is vitally important that we work with schools in supporting language teachers to develop and access best practices, so that they can equip students with the skills needed to engage with others fluently in both English and Chinese throughout their school lives and beyond.
In view of this, a Task Force on Language Support (TF) was set up by the Education Bureau in 2004 with the ultimate aim of raising the standard of language proficiency in Hong Kong. The TF consists of teaching consultants who provide Chinese (including Putonghua) and English language curriculum development support services to all primary and secondary schools. Since the setting up of the TF, language support officers have been working very closely and intensively with teachers in a variety of school contexts on school-initiated projects. These projects are always content-specific and context-appropriate, and aim to enhance the quality of language education and develop equitable and inclusive language teaching practices.
The TF also enlists the support of different stakeholders and very experienced language experts to conduct professional development activities, organise student learning activities, foster professional exchange, and share the process and outcomes of schools’ efforts in improving language education.
The school cases developed by our officers in collaboration with teachers serve the purpose of illustrating how schools can go about developing solid school-based curricula underpinned by appropriate pedagogy. Over the years, schools have put in place different strategies to:
- improve students’ reading and writing literacy;
- infuse language arts into the core curriculum from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 4;
- carry out holistic planning of the curriculum;
- increase the amount and quality of public speaking and interaction opportunities in English in and out of the classroom;
- use assessment to inform teaching and learning;
- cater for learner diversity, including teaching Chinese to non-Chinese speaking students;
- promote the use of Putonghua in language activities and in classroom learning;
- strengthen the curriculum leadership skills of PSMCDs, panel heads, coordinators and other potential leaders;
- develop both intra and inter-departmental collaborative cultures.
These cases are collated and disseminated to the public in “The Language Teaching Album: A Collection of School-based Practices”. Various other resources including online publications, lesson plans or sample worksheets, leadership or teaching skills workshops are all available on the TF’s online platform. Visit this link for more information:
In addition to intensive school-based support, over the years the TF has also advocated the setting up of professional learning networks, which bring teachers from different schools and different contexts together and foster cross-fertilisation of good practices. Examples of this include the Curriculum Leadership Networks for panel heads and coordinators. They do not just provide opportunities for professional development and sharing of experiences and resources, but enable committed teachers to develop their leadership skills and a culture of learning. This is important for sustaining the positive impact of their efforts.
In the years to come, the TF will continue to play a pivotal role in the development of language education. We will do so by continuing to offer intensive school-initiated and school-based curriculum and teacher development support that is geared towards meeting the needs of individual schools and engaging teachers in reflection in and on action. We will also be moving towards more sophisticated forms of support, with greater emphasis placed on enhancing the way language is used across the curriculum, curriculum leadership development and professional learning communities.