Legislative Councillor Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong said on Wednesday that inter-department government communication should be bilingual, after the Secretary for Education Eddie Ng said that there is room for improvement when it comes to Hongkongers’ English levels.

Ng said that students should be encouraged to use English for daily communication, as the language environment is important. He also said that in order to learn more about the issue, the government is arranging study exchange programmes between 50 local and international schools. They are also considering hiring an additional English teacher for schools with more classes.

eddie ng
Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. Photo: Stand News.

In response to an earlier study carried out by Education First (EF) which said that Hong Kong’s English levels rank 9th in Asia – behind Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam – Ng said that it was commercially motivated and thus the results were not objective or representative. 52.4 percent of Hong Kong students have attained a level 3 in English, the minimum requirement for university admission, in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) exams this year.

kenneth leung
Kenneth Leung. Photo: Stand News.

Following Ng’s comments, Leung said that the government should also make greater use of English.

“I think the communication by government departments should be bilingual because English is an official language of Hong Kong apart from Chinese. And by doing so I think they can raise the general standard of English. I think both languages are important and both languages are the official language,” Leung told RTHK.

Leung also said that Hongkongers only attained a proficiency level of “competent” and “good” in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.