Newsletter No. 109

To Increase Linguistic Awareness Amo ng Hong Ko ng Students P r o f. Samuel Cheung Hung-nin from the Department of East AsianLanguagesat the University of California, Berkeley, delivered a public lecture at the University on 14th May in his capacity as Wilson T. S. Wang Visiting Professor in Language Education. In the lecture, entitled ' L i n g u i s t ic Awareness: Chinese Language Education in Hong Kong', Prof. Cheung investigated the development of Chinese language education in Hong Kong from two angles: linguistic and socio- linguistic. Hong Kong is a multi-lingual society: while Cantonese is used for everyday oral communication, the written language is based essentially on Putonghua. The spoken language is, however, o f t en interspersed w i t h En g l i s h, wh i le Cantonese expressions find their way into written Chinese. The phenomenon, Prof. Cheung points out, is seen by intellectuals as a 'deviation from accepted standards', and a 'pollution of language'. Although Putonghua teaching w o u l d help to improve writing ability and reduce the use of dialect in w r i t t en Chinese, its f u l l i mp l eme n t a t i on takes t i me and the improvement of language ability requires immediate attention. Prof. Cheung is of the view that students should not abandon the use of their mother tongue, Cantonese; they should instead be taught to increase their awareness of the language they use. The lecture attempted to analyse the problems of Chinese language education f r om different aspects, and suggested concrete teaching methods to improve students' confidence in and awareness of the language, in order to enhance their interest in language learning. Prof. Cheung is currently chair of the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California at Berkeley. His visit to C U HK is the first of its k i nd sponsored by the Wi l s on T. S. Wang V i s i t i ng Professorship in Language Education Scheme, set up with a generous donation by Dr. Wilson T. S. Wang. Hong Kong Journalists Oppose Self-Censorship A Surrey conducted in the summer of 1996 by Prof. Clement So, Prof. Joseph M . Chan, and Prof. Chin-chuan Lee of the Department of J ou r na l i sm and Commu n i c a t i on reveals that, despite uncertainty about press freedom after 1997, most Hong Kong journalists oppose media self-censorship during the transition period. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to randomly-selected journalists from 22 news organizations last summer, and 553 completed questionnaires were received, giving a response rate of 62 per cent. Over 80 per cent of the respondents objected to the statement that T o maintain stability and prosperity during the transition, journalists should not expose too much of the dark side of society'; only 5 per cent i d e n t i f i ed w i t h it. Some 60 per cent disagreed that 'For the sake of public interest as a whole, it is appropriate for the media to give up a little freedom' and that 'In the pursuit of ideals, journalists may not have to be neutral'. More than half worried that press freedom in the territory would be affected after the handover. The feasibility of 'one country, two systems' elicited a wait-and-see attitude from about half of the journalists, with about 15 per cent feeling positive and 20 per cent feeling pessimistic. Some 47 per cent thought that in case of a conflict between Hong Kong and China, the Hong Kong media should remain neutral; only 1per cent believed they should side with China; 37 per cent believed they should take a pro-Hong Kong stand. With respect to self-censorship, only 5 per cent agreed with the statement that 'Nowadays most journalists hesitate to criticize the Hong Kong goverment'. One- third found that journalists hesitate to criticize the large corporations in Hong Kong. Half of the respondents believed that local journalists hesitate to criticize the Chinese government. Most respondents however felt themselves bolder than their peers. Those expressing hesitation in criticizing the Hong Kong government, the large corporations, and the Chinese government constituted only 4, 13, and 21 per cent of the respondents respectively. Seminar Held to Solve Problems in Chinese Language Teaching in Hong Kong A seminar on Chinese language teaching in Hong Kong was held at the University from 15th to 17th May. The organizers were the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, the Ng Tor-tai Chinese Language Research Centre of the Institute of Chinese Studies, the Hong Kong Examinations Authority, the Curriculum Development Institute and the Advisory Inspectorate of the Hong Kong Education Department. The seminar was conducted in two sessions: the tertiary session held on 15th and 16th, and the sixth form session on 17th. The tertiary session featured lectures given by Prof. Samuel Cheung Hung-nin of the Department of East Asian Languages at the University of California at Berkeley, and Prof. Chew Cheng-hai, director of the Centre for Chinese Language and Culture of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The topics discussed included the necessity of i n t r o d u c i ng an exit examination on proficiency in Chinese, and whether the establishment of an independent learning centre i n tertiary institutions can raise students' Chinese language standards. The sixth form session was attended by over 200 sixth form Chinese language teachers. Prof. Dang Shu-leung, chairman of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, spoke on 'Chinese Language Proficiency of Secondary Students and Undergraduates'. Participants exchanged experiences in teaching sixth form Chinese, and discussed the future of the Chinese curriculum as well as assessment objectives in public examinations. More Research Grants T h e following two research proposals submitted by members of the University recently received funding locally and from overseas: • Project title: Occupational Noise Exposure and Hearing Impairment Among Employees in the Service Industry in Hong Kong Sponsor: Health Services Research Fund, Hong Kong Principal researcher. Prof. Ignatius Yu Tak-sun Amount awarded: HK$617,868 • Project title: A Comparative Study of the Me c han i c al and H i s t o l o g i c al Properties of Bone to Bone Union and Bone to Tendon Healing Sponsor: AO/ASIF Research Commission, Switzerland Principal researchers: Prof. K. S. Leung, Prof. L. Qin Amount awarded: CHF 114,600 (approx. HK$620,000) First Batchof Loca l l y -Tr a i ne d PE Degree Holders T h e Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, initially established in 1989 as the Department of Physical Education, began offering Hong Kong's first degree course in sports science and physical education in 1994. The first batch of Bachelors of Education in sports science and physical education are graduating this year. To mark the occasion, the department held a press conference on 9th May to introduce the graduates as well as its latest research. Then, on 10th May, the department organized the '97 Symposium on Research in Sports Science and Physical Education: South-East Asia Perspective'. Speakers from China, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong K o ng presented their latest research findings on physical education from social and biological perspectives. Accountancy Graduates Score Highest in HKSA/ ACCA Exams Gr adua t es of the University's School of Accountancy outdid other candidates in the HKSA / ACCA joint examinations held in December 1996. The Hong Kong Society of Accountants announced in the May/June 1997 issue of The Prospective Account: The Students' Journal of the Hong Kong Society of Accountants that the top students for three non - e x emp t i b le papers in the professional stage examination are CUHK professional accountancy graduates. 1996 graduate K w o k Man - c hung topped other candidates in Paper 10 — ' Accountin g and Auditing Practice' ( while Regina Lee Sau-yee, also a 1996 graduate, was the top scorer in Paper 13 — 'Financial Reporting Environment' (HK) and Paper 14— 'Financial Strategy'. Kwok is an accountant at Price Waterhouse, and Lee is now a finance management trainee at Mass Transit Railway Corporation.