Our Views about Language

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
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Language is indispensable to the human race and effective language in various forms can be very powerful [Kwok 2008]. Language in the form of words is important for communication and for expressing one's thoughts, abstract ideas, feelings or emotions. There are thousands of different languages spoken around the world. An ordinary person usually can understand two or three languages among the thousands. With the limited ability of human beings, it is practically impossible to understand all the languages. Fortunately, there are a few common major languages widely spoken globally. Among these major languages (including Chinese, Spanish), English is regarded as a de facto international language. Its important status is reflected by the fact that many influential knowledge dissemination media such as prominent scientific journals are written in English. Undoubtedly, it is important for a person to know at least the English language if the person wants to gain direct access to the huge body of knowledge published in that language.

Bilingual Ability

With the globalization of the world, it is very desirable for people to master multiple languages. However, most of us would honestly admit that it is not easy to master multiple languages proficiently, especially if we lack a suitable language environment (with native speakers of the concerned languages around us). A more realistic goal is bilingual proficiency. Taking Hong Kong as an example, the pursuit of bi-literacy and tri-lingualism (written Chinese and English, spoken Cantonese, Putonghua and English) has long been advocated by the Government and many leaders in the fields of education and business, etc.

Language Learning

Learning a language consists of four main aspects: reading, listening, speaking and writing, with the former two requiring more passive learning, while the latter two more productive techniques. The first two can usually be improved by hard-working efforts on one's own, for example by reading books and listening to radio programs. However, it usually takes practice and feedback for a person to make better learning progress in speaking and writing. One straightforward way to learn a language is to learn through live interaction with native speakers of the language. This is how we learn our first language.

It is quite different if we learn a foreign language. For example, English is a foreign language for most people in Hong Kong. After many years of learning English starting from primary school (or even kindergarten), many people still find it difficult to achieve proficiency in English as their second language. Here in Wislant, we have come up with one possibly very effective way to significantly improve learning English as a foreign language in Hong Kong. It is through writing and then interaction with a native speaker based on that writing. This is the model that our English language service is based on:

Wislant's Model of Improving One's Language Ability

By writing an article, a person actively organises his/her thoughts and puts down the ideas in words, from loose thoughts to sensible sentences with specific words. After proofreading and editing by a native speaker, feedback on the writing will be helpful for the writer to understand how a native speaker would write the same content. If there can be a live conversation for discussion of the writing, it will provide an additional opportunity for improving the listening and speaking aspect of the foreign language. This way for improvement in mastering a foreign language is particularly effective for ordinary people who do not have great language talents. They may prefer learning a foreign language gradually as writing is a slower process than speaking. Practice in using the foreign language in the form of writing will probably build up a better foundation for a person's ability in using the language.

Foreign Language Learning & Careers

The language skills are probably the most needed skill in all job environments. A person who knows a foreign language will usually have better career prospects compared with others who know only their native language. Using again the example of Hong Kong, people who know foreign languages (such as English, Japanese) are generally more competitive for the relevant job opportunities than those who know Chinese alone. With the commonplace mass media in Chinese and the Cantonese environment, people in Hong Kong generally have no problem in using Chinese for informal communication. However, many job positions require English language ability in addition to fluent Chinese. It is understandable that foreign language ability would add extra competitiveness to an individual as it does to a company. To a city like Hong Kong, its global competitiveness will definitely be improved further with the good foreign language abilities of the workforce.

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