No.86
Issue No.457
12 Jul, 2003

PTU NEWS
Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union

Diversified Training of language teachers is needed

James Hon 


The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) has issued its final report of the language education review. Although there are always rooms for a better policy, the report contains some good suggestions. Chapter Four of the Report talks about the ways to ehance the qualifications of language teachers. This is worthy of further discussions.

In principle, it is good to upgrade the quailifications of a new language teacher to at least a Bachelor of Education majoring relevant language subjects or a relevant language degree with a relevant Post-Graduate Diploma of Education. In the past, because of the fact that most of the English graduates were attracted to the commercial sector or the civil service, many English teachers in Hong Kong did not major in English. It will be a good opportunity to recruit more English trained graduates to join the profession in a period of recession. More importantly, SCOLAR does not under-estimate the necessity of professional training and emphasizes that even the English graduates should further pursue teacher training so that they can possess, besides the subject matter of the language, the skills and knowledge base to teach.

However, it is also a big question for the teacher training insitutes to tailor-make their courses for these new comers of the profession. Courses of Education theories and teaching skills have to be re-designed and concentrated. What the SCOLAR demands is really a challenge. Thus it should be welcome that the implementation of this new requirement is postponed to 2004-2005 as the course providers does not need to rush for the course development.

For the benefits of students in general, all teachers should be professionally trained. And education theories, teaching skills and commitment of a teacher should be well balanced and guaranteed in the training courses. Pre-service training and in-service development, instead of the so-called benchmarking, are the best ways to enhance teacher professionalism.

As for the in-service training, SCOLAR is concerned with the heavy workload of language teachers. After receiving the feedback that most teachers object any deadline for the acquisition of the qualifications required, the authority should take careful steps to avoid the vulgar implementation like that of the benchmarking policy.
The government should give top priority to the design of an appropriate and practical course for serving language teachers. As I have always emphasized, teachers' continuous professional training should be diversified and designed to suit the needs of different stages of a teacher's career. There can never be a single course which is suitable for all teachers. Such a rigid course would undoubtedly waste the time and energy of a teacher and the government funding too. The credit exemption concept suggested by SCOLAR may pave the way for diversified training courses. We welcome the concept and expect that the courses provided would meet the practical needs of the teachers.

The basic philosophy of language benchmarking is teacher deificiency and denies the existing teacher qualifications. On the contrary, SCOLAR report adopts the model of continuous development. Comparing the two, one can easily find out which is better for teacher development and education improvement. Respect and cooperation, instead of insult and denial, are essential for any education reform. (Translated by Staff)

Date: 9 AUG 2003 ( Sat )
Time: 8:00pm
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