I have asked a native English teacher in Hong Kong about my concern, he said:
Going to international school does help but there are other ways of getting your child to speak fluent English.
2. Child's ability to pick up
3. Child's willingness to pick up
There are children who have picked up the language just by reading, watching TV, music and of course practice.
Speaking the language at home or frequently also helps.
Accent is not as important as long as someone can understand what you are trying to say. Of course if you'd like to have a perfect accent, you should definitely go with a native speaker and depends on what accent you'd like i.e. British, American, Canadian, Australian - all speak the English language but all have different accents. As you may know that even amongst those speakers, depending on the region or state that they are from, the accent is different.
Domestic help teaching the child to learn English it is a help and will familiarize the child. But having a private tutor will let your child learn better yet again depends on how well your child will pick it up. Then it's practice.
Being in an international school will help the child to pick up more quickly since he/she is surrounded with English speakers and yet all the children will have different accents as well. Teachers will help the child as well and the frequent contact with English speakers is a definite boost for the child.
Encouragement is important but the more the child is exposed to the language it is easier and faster for them to pick up.
I agree completely with your last two postings. Speaking English at home is every bit as important as learning English in school. Also, ESF has always been intended for pupils who have been brought up in an English environment. Only students who can speak English quite fluently are admitted into ESF schools. My own parents never intended for me to stay permanently in Hong Kong. Ever since I was little, I spoke both English and Mandarin at home and I have always intended to study at Cambridge or Stanford and work in the UK or US after I graduate from university. Finally, I am a British Citizen, not a British National Overseas (BNO) or a PRC Hong Kong citizen.
By the way, I never spoke Cantonese. I either spoke Mandarin or English and quite a lot of people thought I was from Mainland China, which is half true because my father is Shanghainese and my mother family's came from Henan.
Therefore, you can consider me to be more British and more "mainland Chinese" than "Hong Kongese", hence I was more like a foreigner than a local.
Thank you for your sharing, I think I'm asking enough for now.
I wish you good luck in your study and sure you can go to Cambridge or Stanford. What are you intended to study? Language?
My brother-in-law graduated from MIT last year and he is doing very well in HK.
How many languages do you understand?
Karen, thank you for your well-wishing. I intend to study Biochemistry and Medical Science in university. However, multilingualism is always a personal advantage.
Ashley, I can understand English, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, Shanghainese Chinese, and French. I hope I will be able to understand German and Russian by the time I enter university.
I wish I had such a gift for languages. I wish I had started learning English long before I was 14. You are 14 now so imagine that it is just now that you start learnig English and that you are being thought by a teacher who is a non-native speaker of English. So you are really a lucky person Guofei Ma. Although I have been learning English seriously for so many (believe me, m-a-n-y!) years I will never be able to use it properly as I have no English in my blood as I call it. Starting to learn languages when you are really young is what matters. What a pity, schools did not realise the importance of teaching foreign languages when the child was quite young when I was a kid. What a pity my parents did not pay attention to learning languages then. Fortunately, learning languages is fashionable now and schools introduce foreign languages much earlier. At least my children
( when I have ones) will have English or other foreign languages in their blood along with Polish as their mother tongue.
Althohgh we have learned English in Hong Kong from kindergarten, I think our English is not up to standard. All my English teachers are local people, with strong accent and we were not interested in English classes. And now, I grow-up, I think the reason is they did not know how to teach.
Take me as an example, after I've started to work, I realised my English is very bad, especially written. I have to learned everything all over.
You know Karen, accuratness in English is not that important I think, as you can work on it and get better and better. But the really important thing is that you should start learning foreign languages as early as possible. On another forum a boy said that he had spent three months with another boy from Canada. His parents were speaking only in English to that Canadian boy and he also tried to do so athough he had never learnt English before. Now he is a teenager and has started to learn that language seriously. He said he had no problems with English - he just feels that language thanks to the time spent with the Canadian boy when he was a kid.
Karen, if you started learning English as a child, believe me, you will have much less problems with using it than me who started learnig it at the age of 14. I wish I had been born a few years ago as the time has changed and now the children in Poland start learning English even in kindergarten. I realise that small children can't see the importance of learning foreign languages and some of them may be even reluctant to do so but I think that they will acquire it unconsciously after all and they will take advantage of it later in their life.
Yes, Bea, I do believe that I am lucky to have parents who are not typical "Hong Kongers".
Do you know parents in Hong Kong and Taiwan are crazy about Disney World English? Originally, the material is for Spanish speakers, who are living in USA. To be honest, I have seen the material and some of my friends are using them to teach their kids English, I believe the material is very good, but too expensive, it's close to US$5000, only include 15 DVD and books.