Bulletin Vol. 4 No. 3 Dec 1967

language itse lf, language learning and teaching, besides p a rtic u la r courses and text-books, in c lu d in g one series w ith a colleague o f m ine as co-author. In going th ro u g h the present collection, we all have certain crite ria fo r ju d g in g th e ir usefulness in solving o u r problem s in H o ng K ong, A ccord in g to such crite ria , we may be in clin ed to skip over books w ritte n o rig in a lly fo r teaching E nglish in Japan, A fric a , and oth e r overseas te rrito rie s. Experienced and learned teachers may quote many reasons fo r th e ir u n s u ita b ility . Such reasons could be w e ll ju s tifie d because o f many peculiarities o f the Chinese learners and the local en vironm en t. However, we should have here more positive criteria. T h e y should be based on the observed needs o f the local students, teachers, and even educational adm inistrators. Such needs, if p u t together systematically in to a frame o f reference, w o u ld make o u r inspection o f the exh ib its more m eaningful. By needs, I do not mean the lack o f fu n d s, shortage o f accommodation, discrepancies in salary scales, and so on, w h ich have th e ir bearing on the teaching o f E ng lish o f course. I w o u ld rather attem p t to locate a basic need th a t w ill serve as a focal p o in t o f other secondary needs. T o me the fundam ental need here is m a xim um teaching and learning efficiency unde r a given set o f circumstances. By th is I im p ly tha t in spite o f the large classes, the keen com p etitio n p u t up by other subjects fo r the tim e in school and home, the present qu a lifica tio n o f teachers, the shortage o f p ro - fessional advisers, and the lack o f mechanical aids, there are s till sufficient resources fo r us to raise the standard o f E ng lish as a second language. T h e reason w h y such resources have no t been used to the fu ll is in sufficie nt awareness o f certain p rincip le s o f efficiency. T o illu stra te th is p o in t, let us note the tim e spent by most Chinese students on English as a second language by the tim e the y leave secondary or m id d le schools, and the standard reached by them . A very rough calculation w ill show tha t most o f them have spent over one thousand hours in fo rm a l lessons o f E nglish. Y et many o f them are unsatisfactorily equipped in com - prehension either in an office or in a higher in s titu tio n o f learning. T h e ir power o f expression, bo th verbal and w ritte n , leaves m uch to be desired. One explana- tio n o f th is phenomenon is perhaps the unquestioning a ttitud e o f some teachers towards the methods they use da ily and towards the usefulness o f certain classroom activities. In extreme cases, they tend to go th rou gh the m otions o f a set scheme, w ith o u t know in g how m any have con trib u te d to the students' progress, and how many may h in d e r them . Some teachers do no t have de finite goals fo r a whole year's w ork, or i f they have, such goals are expressed in terms o f book pages and not o f skills and understanding. I t is tru e th a t th e ir o u tp u t, i f such a te rm could be used, is measured by exam inations, b u t very often, such exam inations are not necessarily related to clearly stated goals. A n d when they are so related, the results o f a group o f candidates are no t treated diagnostically w ith a view to app lying remedial measures. In the above illu s tra tio n , I have touched o n :- (a) the relation o f tim e and results; (b) checking o f e ffo rt w ith regard to its usefulness; (c) the im portance o f definite goals; (d) real goals as d is tin c t from false ones; (e) the need o f analysing results; (f) the need o f diagnosis; and (g) the need o f remedial measures. These po in ts appear to me to be essential ingredients o f efficiency in teaching the subject under discussion, and are parts o f a frame o f reference fo r the considera­ tio n o f the pu blications before you. Perhaps no one single volum e could satisfy us in a ll respects, b u t I hope tha t in each volum e, you w ill discover som ething that w ill either answer a long -standing question, or con firm y o u r c ritic ism o f a tim e-honoured practice. I t is hoped tha t you w ill fin d also questions tha t have never occurred to you. F o r those who are so advanced in th e ir tra in in g and practice as to fin d n o th in g new or useful, may I appeal to them fo r sup po rt to be given freely to others who w ish to in tro du ce sensible changes and im p ro v e ­ ments. Perhaps they should like to consider the ques­ tio n " H o w ‘second’ should be th is second language in H o ng K o n g ? " In other words, what should be the required standard o f comprehension and expression ? Is it sufficient to be able to read the ch ild re n 's page o f a Sunday newspaper, or m ust one be able to read the G overnm ent Gazette ? Is it enough to speak u ngram - m atical E ng lish in e xp la ining a Chinese custom to an E nglish friend? Answers to these questions are not easy, fo r it is d iffic u lt to determ ine a m in im um standard th a t could satisfy all parties concerned. Indeed there is m uch argum ent about th is in some quarters, and I hope th a t the present collection o f books, fam ilia r as it may be to some, may be used to help stim ulate fu rth e r discussions and pro vide some answers. PROGRESS REPORT ON COMPUTING CENTRE T h e U n iv e rs ity C om p u tin g Centre, founded in February 1967 w ith the signing o f the contract fo r the in sta lla tion o f an IB M 1130 com p u tin g system, was o fficia lly opened by V ice -C hance llo r C h o h -M in g L i on 28th Novem ber, 1967. T h e Centre has a staff o f three— M r. P atrick S .K . Fang, D ire c to r, M r. Donald G .K . Chow , the Programm er, and M r. I Luke Tsang, the 2