Bulletin Vol. 6 No. 2 Oct 1969

and read classical Chinese literature voluntarily, reversing their previous attitud e while in Hong Kong. Is this not a source of satisfaction to us? These two anecdotes contain at once a revelation and a sobering lesson, an d have prompted me to review our present educational philosophy. In Hong Kong now, we are facing an urgent demand from the community for effective bi-lingualism. More and more the community is giving equal emphasis to both Chinese and English languages. An educated individual is expected to have a competent command of bot h languages. English is mentioned here for a special reason. In addition to the study of literature, language is an indispensable tool to the learning process. Hence: the more tools we acquire, the better off we will be. Aside from English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong offers courses in Japanese, French, German and Italian and has encouraged students to enrol in them. But at this stage of history, English happens to be the language in which the latest human knowledge is made readily and widely available. And if because of our limitation in time and effort we have to make a single choice among non-Chinese languages, English would easily be the winner. In Hong Kong, some of the important government announcements and notices in the Gazette appear in both English and Chinese. When private firms have vacancies for ke y positions, they more and more prefer people with bi-lingual ability. Even in the academic community overseas, a Chinese mathematician or physicist is not considered a first- rate scholar unless he i s well versed in Chinese culture. He would not otherwise earn the implicit respect of his colleagues. There is no question in my mind that the present tendency, for public or private, local or international reasons, the trend toward effective bi-lingualism is inevitable and irresistible. By effective bi-lingualism is meant that one has enough command of Chines e and English as media for communication—in reading, writing and speaking. It does not mean that he has to be a specialist in both languages. I n a sense Chinese culture may be taken as a basis for the evaluation of Western culture. In another, it is also like the digestive mechanism, without which the essence of Western culture cannot be assimilated. We often say that our duty is to bridge the gap between the East and the West. If we do not know enough about Chinese culture, how can we speak for the East? We often say that we should serve the community of Hong Kong, where the population is predominantly Chinese who speak and write in Chinese. If we do not have a command of the Chinese language, how do we serve it? In recent decades, English has become a world language—not only fo r the learning process, but also for trade and various other forms of international exchange. As a free port dependent on its continuous growth in industry and world trade, Hong Kong must be able to anticipate and to adapt itself to the latest developments abroad. We must make an utmost effort to keep abreast of new discoveries in science and technology, in industry and in the world of learning. This effort requires a good knowledge of English. The question may be raised; Since we do have difficulty ill producing student s capable of handling either Chinese or English really well, how can we expect them to be competent in both? Isn't it asking too much? Not at all. It is only through giving equal emphasis to Chinese and English that we shall be able to produce students competent in both languages. In Hong Kon g there are two streams of secondary schools: the Anglo-Chinese (that is, the medium of instruction is English) and the Chinese. This is more of a historical phenomenon derived from habit than a self-sufficient system. If we want effective bi-lingualism, it is necessary to start the training at the secondary school level. With equal emphasis given to bot h Chinese and English, the student profits greatly by translating one language into another, and thus gains insight, perception and precision. The experience of the Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia is interesting. It is not uncommon for a Chinese there to be conversant with two or three languages plus a few local Chinese dialects. This does not in any way deter him from receiving a good university education . Another question may be raised: Do we have enough qualified teachers i n either Chinese or English for the purpose? Is there enough reading material for the training programme? It seems to me, however, that these ar e matters of detail. If we make up our mind, all these difficulties will be overcome in time. To give equal emphasis to both Chinese and English has always been the policy of this University. As graduates of the University, you are expected to set yourselves as good examples. You must continue to improve yourselves as effective bi-linguists. At the same time, I hope that you will try your best to influence your family, friends and acquaintances so that a proper atmosphere for effective bi-lingualism may be created for the entire community. In accomplishing this objective, you will not only do your A l ma Mater a great service, but also create a much brighter future for Hong Kong. — 2 —