|Language battle in the classroom|
|Written by Christina Yang|
|Monday, 07 May 2007|
It was an art appreciation course offered by the General Education Unit of The University of Hong Kong. As stated in the syllabus, the course was to be instructed in Cantonese and Putonghua.
At the beginning of the class, someone suggested using English, the University’s official medium of instruction, so that all the students in the classroom, both mainlanders and Hong Kongers, could understand and participate in class discussions. Yet, the instructor preferred to use Chinese to communicate with her Chinese compatriots. After a brief “consultation period”, Putonghua became the official language in the classroom.
However, the instructor’s Cantonese-style Putonghua mingled with English phrases confused both the mainlanders and Hong Kongers, which also embarrassed herself a lot. Finally, she decided to end all the inconvenience -switching back to Cantonese.
After the class, a discussion as to whether to adopt English as the instruction language in the next session ranged on again…It seemed a torture to decide on a classwide language to appreciate art beyond boundaries.
This is just one episode of the ongoing language war in Hong Kong’s classrooms. Since the former British colony returned to its motherland, the English, Cantonese and Putonghua triangle controversy has further complicated the language scene. What language should the next generation learn? The local dialect, the official national language, or the international lingua franca?
|Last Updated ( Monday, 07 May 2007 )|
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