查看完整版本 : Use it or lose it (英語不用則廢)

cyberparrot 2011-11-25 06:31 AM

Use it or lose it (英語不用則廢)

Folks, I would like to share with you an article by the title of "Use it or lose it" written by Amy Wu, an American born Chinese writer living in Hong Kong.  You can find her article on page A17 of the South China Morning Post published on Thursday, 24th November 2011.

A language must be used often until you become conversant with it and then maintained.  If you are not yet conversant, you have to spend time to make sure you become one.  From then on, keep using it often for maintenance.  Otherwise, you will be speaking a rusty language only.

[[i] 本帖最後由 cyberparrot 於 2011-11-25 06:33 AM 編輯 [/i]]

ccm1130 2011-11-25 05:29 PM

agree with u ar~ I totally lose it ar...

NS000 2011-11-25 08:09 PM

this is true for all the types of skills  that you have learned through out your life

kwaileung 2011-11-26 09:47 AM

i agree with you, but it just not much opportunity to use english in HK

theLittleManiac 2011-11-26 10:26 AM

:)  I know but I can only see myself losing it.

cyberparrot 2011-11-26 02:08 PM

Just in case you may not be able to find the original article, I am posting it here at the risk of being ...

Use it or lose it

   Amy Wu suggests Hong Kong should stop worrying if English skills are important and start improving them, or risk missing out in the job race.

   I am speaking to the bank cashier in English, requesting a transaction, and she cocks her head in confusion.  Guilty of speed talking, I slow down.  Perhaps seeing that I look Chinese, am Chinese, she switched to Cantonese, and I follow her lead and show off my newly learned Cantonese.  She switches to Putonghua. No problem.  I swiftly change too.

   "Your Putonghua is much better than my English," she says in Putonghua.  Like many young people in Hong Kong she learned English in school, but, like any language, it is rusty due to lack of use.  At work, she speaks Cantonese and, when she goes home, she will speak Cantonese.

   Why should she care, and why should any of us care?  Because English is important and it gives people a competitive edge in this global economy.  The young people on the mainland get this and so shoudl their Hong Kong counterparts.  Sadly, many don't.  

   There has been much debate over the value of English, with cynics saying it should rightfully take a back seat to Putonghua, which is a ncessary language to compete int he calssroom and in the workplace.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Cantonese is important, Putonghua is important, but English, is too.  In fact, it is what has made Hong Kong unique.   The city's bilingualism has made it a magnet for international finance and business.

   Chinese poet and scholar Yu Guangzhong recently said English was "infecting Putgonghua" in Hong Kong.  English is the most obvious scapegoat when Putonghua levels are pretty average.  In the end, it will be Hong Kong's young people who will suffer with the decline of English levels when the post-university job hunting seas arrives, those who question the importance of English will find themselves neck and neck with mainland youngsters who are enthralled with English.  The competition increases, the number of jobs doesn't.

  That decline is very real: f riends in their 50s and 60s, born and raised in Hong Kong, often speak and write better English than youngsters.

   Marketing, advertisign and often government releases all are written in poor English.  Friends who teach even Hong Kong's top universities are incredulous at the quality of written assignments they receive.

   Yet, mainland Chinese students are hungry to learn English.  At the universities I've visted across the border, students are zealous about practising their English.  There are English speaking contest, and salons, cafes and bookstores are packed with bilingual books.

   If Hong Kong is to compete on a global level and maintain its uniqueness as a station into mainland China, and a springboard to other cities in this region, then English is important.  Mainland Chinese will certainly be using the language to compete.

   In the meantime, my friends back at home in New York understand the value of language, which, in this case, is Putonghua.  They are snapping up Putonghua speaking nannies and sending their children to Chinese school at the weekend.

  It is time for the hemming and hawing over the importance of English to stop.  Hong Kong needs to keep up and not fall behind, and it starts with ditching the ego, the short-term vision and the circular date.

Amy Wu is an American-born Chinese writer and commentator now living in Hong Kong.

(This article is published in the South China Morning Post on Thursday, 24th November 2011.)

cyberparrot 2011-11-26 02:13 PM


Source:-  National Post, Canada  

China largest English speaking nation now
    Posted: January 18, 2010, 9:15 AM by Diane Francis
    Filed under: China,Entrepreneurs,economy

    The world's "lingua franca" is English and an estimated two billion are trying to learn it as their linguistic passport to business success and global access. China leads the pack, followed by India and Eastern Europe.
    "This year China will become the world's largest English-speaking nation of more than 300 million," said Mike Kraft, CEO of Lingo Media Corporation which is poised to cash in on this gigantic market.
    But English speaking is a bit of a misnomer. The problem in China is a shortage of teachers who actually speak English properly.
    Enter Lingo Media, Kraft's small, Toronto-listed company. He has been a specialty publisher for years who has been developing English textbook products for China's governments for years. Then he realized the teacher shortage problem so he just launched a breakthrough web-based learning product, using voice recognition software, for the Chinese market.
    Within one year of operation, it has signed up one million registered users and is growing its client base exponentially.

    Check it out
    The site, speak2me.cn, is in Chinese and accessible on the web. Free to registrants, it provides a virtual teacher, an avatar, who interacts with students. This avatar speaks English properly and, through voice recognition software, "listens" to students repeat her words and sentences then makes them verbalize over again until they get it right. There is scoring, contests and prizes.
    Students can tap into hundreds of tailor-made modules -- about shopping, studying, working, traveling or socializing -- that help them practice their pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. They can repeat them as often as they wish and the site is friendly and playful. It makes practice enjoyable instead of painful.
    "The Chinese are so proficient at passing tests by memorizing, reading, writing but the teachers cannot speak it properly," said Kraft. "We are giving them a personal English teacher, without cost, on their PCs."
    Speak2me is free to registrants because its business model is based on advertising. Messages are embedded into content, without affecting its quality. Because speak2m is so far ahead of language instruction rivals, in the giant Chinese market, it has been approached and has signed up some of the world's biggest advertisers such as Mercedes-Benz, Motorola, Procter & Gamble and others.

    "Within three months, 60,000 Chinese professionals did English lessons on our site which included Smart Car content and promotion," said Kraft in an interview.
    The site's one million users are coinage to advertisers, spending nine minutes on the site on average. China's pool of learners is the largest by far worldwide and will grow. All Chinese post-secondary institutions requires English proficiency for admission and the reality is that salary premiums to English-speakers is an average of 72.5%.
    Speak2m has also been hired to provide modules to teach English to the guides for this year's World Expo in Shanghai. But its main product is on the web and China represents the world's biggest pool of online users or 328 million.

cyberparrot 2011-11-26 03:49 PM

Someone typed the  following line in a QQ English group:  "Complacency is the enemy of study."

In plain English, it means one will become tardy in his studies because he finds that he has learned a lot already and is so pleased with it.   

This I would say is living English

Nothing wrong with that saying but it is not language spoken in its simple form, and that explains why people don't speak English properly inside China.

[color=#000][font=Arial][size=14px]Next time round when you see or cite a line like that, make sure you explain the idea at the same time in plain English.  If you can do it, great!  If you can't do it, it means you are not competent enough with the English language.  You can't talk properly.[/size][/font][/color]

[[i] 本帖最後由 cyberparrot 於 2011-11-26 04:01 PM 編輯 [/i]]

jimbo86 2011-11-27 04:12 AM

If u dont wanna to speak white properly is nobody's fault.

Oh well most folks in HK are enjoying inside the pot of slow simmer warmth in a cooking stove just like the Mississippi Bull frog. Just when the temp reach high enuf, one wont be able to jump out!

The article is very right most mainland folks do take speaking white lot more serious, even though their pronunciation is best describe as " Desafinado " or grossly out of tune!

One mall here in vancouver has a computer teaching room, they let u to watch a white conversation and speak into the mic so u can compare how bad yourself sound.
Many yrs ago i did this in a language lab, doing ESL, I was lazy too, thats the reason being I dont speak white too well either. Atleast my problems are my white friends do understand what I spoke.

winnie99999 2011-11-27 11:45 AM

All of us know that English is very important.
But in reality, we seldom use English in our daily life.....even at work!! just simple english!!
I think we use most  is in msn/sms, but it is chi-english, no one will care about the grammar as we know the meaning behind that!!!
we do not have chance to use it
That's the reason our English standard is declining.....

AttaccaWu 2011-11-28 12:33 AM

Students are weak in not just English but also Written Chinese nowadays.  Our education system is sick!

abhor115 2011-11-30 10:48 AM

回覆 11# 的帖子

you got that right
In HK, focusing too much on the academic result,this lets student hard
to learn exam skill, and this would let them lost critically thinking .
when they graduate from high school,you don't have any chance to use english

cyberparrot 2011-12-2 03:06 PM

All that is required is DETERMINATION.  If we are determined to claim English as our own, being able to use it more or less like our second mother tongue to remain competitive in the job market, we will get there by hook or by crook.

In my personal experience, I was determined to do so at the age of 12 and I could not wait for my classroom teacher to teach me English.  So as I got to the end of Form 1 at the age of 13, I was able to read almost everything in print.  I read everything in print in those days, borrowing from 3 libraries the max number of books allowed every week.  If you are in your 50's/60's now, you must remember the USIS Library at the united Center and the British Council Library in Glucester Building, Pedder Street, and then the urban council public libraries.  I read all subjects.  I read daily newspapers, magazines and journals.  To a certain extent, I was certainly sacrificing a bit on other subjects at school in order to devote myself to the task of learning English.

Well, I made it and I was able to land great jobs that required competence in the English language almost like native speakers.  I was selected simply because I talk more or less like one of them.  Being able to interact in a conversation without stammering or stumbling is vital for an international business.

I witnessed in my own eyes during my working life and later on as a trainer in both Hong Kong and mainland China how a lot of time is being wasted as office workers struggle with daily email and correspondence, not to mention the frustration of their counterparts overseas.

After massive input through reading, then one should embark on writing as that will prepare you to talk later on fluently.  A lot of people simply ignore writing and think that they can become accomplished speakers of the language.  No way.

So, all you need is HOOKED ON to English and the determination to succeed.  Good luck!

[[i] 本帖最後由 cyberparrot 於 2011-12-2 05:09 PM 編輯 [/i]]

jimbo86 2011-12-3 01:46 AM

I can see u're hell bent on doing well in engrish, when I was 12 or 13 the only thing in my mind is to play, all books & anything pertaining to education were farthest away from my mind!
My late Dad was at lost to motivate me to have the slightest inclination towards open a book regardless of either language.

My late dad would never be in his wildest dream that i could become a health professional one day.
Then my late Mom , who passed 4 yrs now, she always said I look more like a garage grease boy than anybody who fix people. Because I am  forever working or touching my old jalopy. At least mines does work even when it rains and many of them in country with roads.

To be very dedicated to speak or write white is not exactly easy, one need to have those people as friends otherwise will be short of miracle.
Even for baby boomers, if your primary school didnt have very good engrish teachers, u're toast already.

After so many yrs trying to learn mandarin, I still have trouble to speak 4 & 10. They all sound so much a like.
Just like some of us cant tell R and L. Many say " Remon " instead of Lemon.

I just enjoy life now, today I have 2 issues on my daily driver car,
1) need to install new front brakes.
2) need to heat up the diesel fuel line by installing tubing around the hot engine area. Reason being I burn filtered vegetable oil I collect from my greasy spoon restaurant. The vege oil does gel when temp drops.
It ain't easy to keep a 30 yrs old Mercedes going thats all.

oldwomanchan 2011-12-4 02:04 PM

Not only are many people in the business sector unable to speak and write well, many lecturers in local universities are having the same problem.

I've been taking courses at the postgraduate level at HKU - Since the required medium of English there is English, almost all lecturers teach in English. Lecturers who are westerners of course have no problem with this. Yet, some lecturers who are Chinese speak quite poor English. At times, their choice of words and sentence structures are so flawed that it is even difficult to understand their originally intended meanings in class. Even for someone like me whose Cantonese is my mother tongue, I sometimes find it hard to guess what they want to say although I am already at an advantage (when compared with some of my classmates who are Westerners) when guessing the meanings of their Cantonese-English translated phrases. Some of my classmates are Westerners and many of them complain that they can't understand fully what some of the lecturers are saying in class.

But you see, when these local lecturers write academic articles, they manage to get funding from universities to hire young and qualified younger people from overseas whose English is good to serve as their "research assistants". They also have more time to process ideas and polish their written English when they are writing. Thus, these lecturers are able to get away with their poor spoken English in class because at the end of the day, it is their academic publications, and not really their teaching in class, which matter as far as job security and promotions are concerned.

I fully agree that young people should really work hard to improve their English to acquire a more competitive edge.

cyberparrot 2011-12-4 06:30 PM

Yeah, it's a pain if one has to attend academic lectures delivered by not so qualified lecturers in terms of spoken English.   it's no fun at all.  i dropped out of an online degree course with lectures delivered by local lecturers and some other business courses when I was much younger simply because of the far from satisfactory spoken English when lectures were delivered in poor Chinglish.

But one thing I am certain about learning a foreign language, one has to really do it when you are younger.  When you get older, however hard you try, you won't easily become a flawless or competent user of a foreign language if you are not gifted in foreign languages.

But as a competent user of English living in a non-native environment, there is also a dilemma.  You won't enjoy talking to the non-native or advanced speakers around you.  That's one of the reasons that I have abandoned frequenting English corners up north these days.  However advanced they are, they are still imperfect, and also we have issues in the content of the conversation for political and social differences.  So, English even technically delivered correctly may not be what it is.  Content is also important.

[quote]原帖由 [i]oldwomanchan[/i] 於 2011-12-4 02:04 PM 發表 [url=http://www.discuss.com.hk/redirect.php?goto=findpost&pid=311836802&ptid=16330051][img]http://www.discuss.com.hk/images/common/back.gif[/img][/url]
Not only are many people in the business sector unable to speak and write well, many lecturers in local universities are having the same problem.

I've been taking courses at the postgraduate level ... [/quote]

[[i] 本帖最後由 cyberparrot 於 2011-12-10 04:19 PM 編輯 [/i]]

jimbo86 2011-12-5 03:55 AM

sadly speech is kind of hard wired in our brain since we're young, so is going to be very hard to re-learn it at a later date. Especially after teenage yrs.

is almost kind of like playing trumpet, one need to practice daily or else u can be as good as Louis Armstrong u aint going to sound too swell if u stopped playing for a month.

$42x4$ 2011-12-10 10:17 AM

Out of interest, when she says "use it or lose it" - does it refer to native speakers like herself?  Will foreign born Chinese, after living in HK for a long time, also lose their ability to speak good English?

And yes, the demand for English teachers right now is very high.  My neighbour's father recently returned to Hong Kong after spending 30+ years here and decided to switch to a career in teaching English.  Within one month he found 3 part-time jobs as an English teacher.  I don't know about the pay, but I'd assume it's not bad if he decided to give up a 30-year career and his family behind!

Fresh grads with decent English, you guys should really consider teaching English!

stephmiller 2011-12-10 12:23 PM

[quote]原帖由 [i]cyberparrot[/i] 於 2011-11-25 06:31 AM 發表 [url=http://www.discuss.com.hk/redirect.php?goto=findpost&pid=310824627&ptid=16330051][img]http://www.discuss.com.hk/images/common/back.gif[/img][/url]
Folks, I would like to share with you an article by the title of "Use it or lose it" written by Amy Wu, an American born Chinese writer living in Hong Kong.  You can find her article on page A17 of th ... [/quote]

Hey buddy, please don't take this offensively, but grammer is also a huge factor of a language.

cyberparrot 2011-12-10 04:17 PM

[quote]原帖由 [i]$42x4$[/i] 於 2011-12-10 10:17 AM 發表 [url=http://www.discuss.com.hk/redirect.php?goto=findpost&pid=312469438&ptid=16330051][img]http://www.discuss.com.hk/images/common/back.gif[/img][/url]
Out of interest, when she says "use it or lose it" - does it refer to native speakers like herself?  Will foreign born Chinese, after living in HK for a long time, also lose their ability to speak goo ... [/quote]

I don't think an overseas born and brought up Chinese will lose the mother tongue English.  However, if you are familiar with the China situation, native speakers living in China for too long will compromise their English because they are surrounded by Chinglish users.  If you don't follow the Chinese usage, you may bump into trouble from time to time as Chinglish users have their own version of English.

And I have seen a Filipino native English speaker having his English skills eroded as he his to downgrade his English in order for the local Hong Kong factory workers to understand him.  The mother calling from the USA complained about this openly when they talked on the phone.  It was so noticeable.

mer~ 2011-12-18 12:57 AM

any suggestions if one wants to improve english language? :)

巴芝菇 2011-12-18 02:45 PM

totally agree with u!
i rmb i can talked very fluent eng when i was studying in secondary sch, coz i practice everyday for my oral exam...but after entering university,there is not much chance to use it...
i almost lost all my skills on eng oral right now....even couldnt express myself in a clear way....disappointing....:Q

bennetic 2011-12-29 07:35 PM

use it or loose it, i totally agree with the topic.  I guess english is used only to communicate with foreigners, so people hardly use it.
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