Studying abroad has long been a dream for most Chinese students and if they don’t manage going abroad, many choose to go to Hong Kong instead, but this has been causing problems.
A Cantonese lecturer reportedly used Mandarin extensively after students from the Chinese mainland asked him change languages. The class, Essential Concepts in Chinese Culture, which is a core course for all students of the Master of Arts program at City University, Hong Kong. However, according to University guidelines the lecturer was supposed to teach the class in Cantonese, reports Hong Kong based Apple Daily.
Several Hong Kong students are denying widespread reports that Mainland students and Hong Kong students have repeatedly quarreled in the classroom since the incident took place. The report said, Hong Kong students conducted the class, while other other local students protested. According to South China Morning Post:
“No quarrels took place at all,” five mainland students enrolled in the class told the South China Morning Post. “The report overwhelmingly exaggerated [the fact].”
At the very beginning of the semester, some students approached Dr. Chan Yok Hin, the lecturer, asking about giving lectures in Putonghua, but he declined that request. Students also rejected the Apple Daily‘s claim that the lecturer taught bilingually by translating into Mandarin once every three or four sentences. According to City University one-year Master of Arts program curriculum, Dr. Chan’s class is taught in Cantonese for the first semester and Mandarin for the rest. Some Chinese students were surprised when they found out most of their classes were taught in Cantonese, especially as they did not understand the dialect.
The students from the Chinese mainland occupy 83 per cent of foreign students studying in Hong Kong universities, 12.5 per cent are from the other parts of Asia and 4.5 per cent from the rest of the world. These mainland students are intelligent and hard-working. They have had to survive intense competition with the locals to get a place in the university. Many claim that these students appreciate their opportunity much more than the locals do. After graduation, many of them choose to stay and get a job in Hong Kong.
A report from China Daily said:
“On the other hand, I fear many overseas students will choose to return to their native lands to work once they finish their studies here. Some academics say we should attract more international students (not from the mainland) to live up to our wish of turning Hong Kong into an international education hub. But the reality is cruel.”
Regardless whether the reported squabbles are true or not, there is no doubt that it will be more conducive to both sides if students from the Chinese mainland receive some prior training Cantonese and the administrators made more aware of the students’ cultural needs.