Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

Overhaul Chinese-language learning to give ethnic minorities a fair shot

Overhaul Chinese-language learning to give ethnic minorities a fair shot

Ending racial discrimination is not about ignoring the differences but truly seeing them, such as how Hong Kong’s ethnic minority students learn Chinese differently.

The Equal Opportunities Commission’s (EOC) theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held on March 21, is a lofty one – “All Races As One”. It may sound simplistic but requires nuanced understanding. It is not implied that differences in people should be ignored due to their race. That would be a huge mistake.

Instead, the message being conveyed is one of being culturally sensitive, which means being aware that cultural differences and similarities between people exist but without assigning them a value – positive or negative, better or worse, right or wrong.

Racial discrimination comes in many forms and shapes. From in-your-face racist hate to blink-and-miss-it microaggressions, racist behaviour runs the whole gamut. Somewhere in the spectrum sit the structural issues that put people of certain races at a disadvantage. These are perhaps the hardest to change.

In Hong Kong, an unresolved and complicated issue that leads to unequal opportunities among non-Chinese, particularly young people, is related to education, specifically learning the Chinese language.

This is a structural issue that calls for a systemic solution. It cannot be handled at the individual, school or even community level. The EOC has repeatedly called for a comprehensive curriculum, to teach Chinese as a second language, to be put in place, to give non-Chinese students an equal shot at gaining a practical level of language proficiency that enables them to have more job opportunities.

The current options for Chinese-language learning go from the most popular international qualifications, which are completely inadequate for the Hong Kong workplace, to the native Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese examination (DSE), which is extremely challenging.

Most non-Chinese students take the simpler international examinations. In effect, it is a Hobson’s choice.

While those who pass the native-level DSE exam would certainly have better Chinese-language proficiency, those who fail it or only achieve a low grade can expect their chances of getting into a local university to be directly affected. No surprise, then, that most non-Chinese students take the simpler international examinations. In effect, it is a Hobson’s choice.

In a series of informal focus group discussions carried out by the EOC last month with about 20 ethnic minority university students on their experience, motivations and attitudes towards continuing to learn Chinese, it was made abundantly clear that the period of intervention has to be at school. It is too late by the time they get to university.

Clearly, those students who had begun their Chinese-language learning in kindergartens had better proficiency overall. Almost without exception, all participants reported a drop in their levels of Chinese learning once they entered secondary school and were streamed into the international curriculum.

The only two participants who had taken the DSE exam struggled to cope, not just with the subject but also with balancing the workload of the remaining subjects. While one student was relatively successful, the other ended up with lower grades than required for a place at her university of choice for the law degree she wished to pursue.

Clearly, something is wrong. The available options are not delivering the desired outcomes. We need to review the system to truly understand where the fault lines are. This requires honesty, intention and an open mind.

The education system needs to embrace the theme of “All Races As One” as it looks at the issue of Chinese-language learning by non-Chinese students. It is necessary to acknowledge the difference in how a second- or third-language learner picks up Chinese, compared with native speaker. There is no home environment, no cultural context and no early exposure to the language for a non-Chinese speaker. There is a minimum three-year delay in the starting point.

When asked what would motivate them to continue learning Chinese at university alongside their major, the focus group participants made some sound suggestions. They asked for the language course to be non-credit, practical as against academic, and tied to their major or likely career. The undergraduates realise the disadvantage they face as they prepare to enter the job market, but feel hamstrung by their lost opportunities in primary and secondary school.

As Hong Kong emerges from the haze of the pandemic and starts to reinvent itself, I hope there is more energy and intention in doing away with the old and bringing in the new, where required. The education system for non-Chinese students could certainly do with fresh impetus.

“All Races As One” should not be a time-limited slogan but one that Hong Kong truly comes to embody in spirit and form.

AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
The driver has been described by authorities as a 21-year-old woman from Tallahassee
Joe Biden falls at the Air Force Graduation
America's Got Talent…
Elon Musk has been showered with praise by the Chinese public during his trip to China
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
Elon Musk Meets Chinese Finance Minister in Beijing
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Chinese fighter jet buzzes U.S. Air Force spy plane over South China Sea
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
WATCH THIS: democracy in Russia is so bad!
Ed Davey: It is possible for a woman to have a penis
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Steve Jobs introducing Apple's iPhone, exactly 16 years ago.
Banking Behemoth vs Ex-Boss: The PMorgan-Epstein Entanglement
China overtakes Japan as world's top car exporter
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
The official tapes of Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll battery (rape) and defamation case have been released.
King Charles III being crowned.
Newly released video of Donald Trump’s rape trial deposition:
Video: Ukraine MP Punches Russian Representative At Global Meet
El Paso mayor has declared a state of emergency
Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones in an attempt to kill Putin
Dutch court orders man who fathered 550 kids to stop donating sperm
Kim Kardashian Lookalike Christina Ashten Dies Of Cardiac Arrest, Hours After Plastic Surgery
Samsung has banned employees from using generative AI services such as ChatGPT
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became