Hong Kong Taxi Drivers to Get Free Language Lessons

To help improve this city's "cosmopolitan" image, taxi drivers will be offered free language lessons on tapes, CDs and the Internet under a program launched Friday.

Taxi drivers can get free language study kits and can access a government Web site for help in learning English and Mandarin, the dialect spoken on the mainland and in Taiwan, the government announced.

Noting that surveys had found only 70 percent of local residents were satisfied with taxi service in the city, Commissioner for Transport Robert Footman appealed to drivers to participate.

"Continuous self-improvement on your part is vital to meet passengers' expectations for high quality services and to enhance Hong Kong 's image as a world-class cosmopolitan city," he wrote in a letter posted on the Transport Department's Web site.

Most of Hong Kong's 6.8 million residents speak the Cantonese dialect of Chinese that predominates in Guangdong province, across the border.

Communication problems are generally no worse here than in many other large cities: many taxi drivers can speak and understand some English and Mandarin. But finding some streets can be a challenge since many are pronounced differently in Cantonese.

(People’ Daily 11/18/2000)

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