Our Views about English Language

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
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Hong Kong people in general regard the English language as very important for their careers. The perceived importance of the English language in Hong Kong can be reflected by the numerous advertisements for English language education institutes or even for the English language tutors promoted as pop stars.

English Language & Hong Kong

With the recent financial crisis spread worldwide including Hong Kong, the gloomy prospects for the economy have also arrived and this is expected to last for quite some time. It is probably a good time (or an opportunity) for the whole community to reflect on the past and to equip itself for the opportunities coming up after the economy has passed through this valley of darkness.

Hong Kong is a well-known vibrant and cosmopolitan city, specifically branded as "Asia's world city" as promoted by the Hong Kong SAR Government. However, Hong Kong does not have many natural resources, its main advantage being its geographical location approximately at the centre of Asia and at the entrance point of southern China. Apart from this, human resources (people of desirable qualities and talents) are probably Hong Kong's most important asset. Few would disagree that the future promise of Hong Kong is tied to the quality of its human resources [Chair 2008]. It is basically the same everywhere. So the language ability of its people is undoubtedly an important factor for the stronger competitiveness of Hong Kong.

English Language, Hong Kong & China

The crucial importance of the English language is even more acute to Hong Kong due to its historical development and its strategic position in greater China [Shen 2008]. China is expected to be a rising power in the world economy. It is very likely therefore, that financial capital and various companies will rush even more eagerly to China through Hong Kong for future business opportunities. Hong Kong has been playing the very niche role as a bridge between China and the western world [Zhao 2008], bringing benefits to both Hong Kong and mainland China [Tsang 2008]. The English language is an important medium for such a bridging role for individuals, companies and organisations to develop effective communication and work as an interface between the Chinese community and its western counterpart.

Needs for Better English Language in Hong Kong

There was a slip-of-the-tongue incident in the 2008 Legislative Council Election when a then candidate caused embarrassment because of a pronunciation mistake with a certain word. The mass media then poured scorn on him and complaining about the degrading standards of English even among well-educated people. It's very likely however, that at least five out of ten Hong Kong people (including those who poured scorn on the candidate) would make some mistakes if they were asked to speak in English. This is an obvious indicator reflecting the needs for better English language among Hong Kong people, especially those who had higher education and are working. Good English language ability is also highly desirable in many industrial sectors such as tourism, international exhibition or conference services, etc.

Needs for Better English Language as an Individual in Hong Kong

With the widespread financial crisis and the negatively impacted economy afterwards, there have been significant lay-offs in various business sectors. We consider employees of quality would have a greater chance of survival in such bad economic situations. To put it another way, a company or an organisation with quality employees would have a better ability to survive the economic downturn. For those people who are unemployed due to the present adverse conditions in the economy, the better they are equipped, the greater chance they have of grasping the employment opportunities when the economy starts to climb up from its lowest point. We consider English language ability to be an important dimension with which any individual should be well-equipped.

References:
[1] Kwok, S., "Scholarship Beyond Science" (title translated from the Chinese article), Hong Kong: Mingpao, 19th December, 2008.
[2] Chair, "Flowing Capital, Keeping Talented People and Truth Seeking" (title translated from the Chinese article), Hong Kong: Mingpao, 26th November, 2008.
[3] Shen, S. X.-H., "The Future of Hong Kong if Becoming Another Venice" (title translated from the Chinese article), Hong Kong: Mingpao, 20th October, 2008.
[4] Zhao, S. X. et al., "Re-positioning Hong Kong - Economy Transition and Industry Development" (title translated from the Chinese article), Hong Kong: Mingpao, 9th December, 2008.
[5] Tsang, D., "30th Aniversary of the Reformation in China and Hong Kong's Role" (title translated from the Chinese article), Hong Kong: Mingpao, 18th December, 2008.

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