Hong Kong may require schools to use the official Mandarin dialect to teach the Chinese language, replacing the Cantonese dialect that Hong Kongers have long been speaking.
Many Hong Kong schools have been teaching Cantonese for decades. Some are now offering Mandarin as a separate subject.
Instruction in Mandarin could improve Chinese proficiency because it most closely follows the Chinese written language, said Subrina Chow, a spokeswoman for the official language policy think-tank studying the issue.
China has a single written language with characters that are pronounced differently in scores of regional dialects.
However, some non-Mandarin dialects contain unique colloquialisms that don't correspond to standard Chinese characters.
Teaching in Mandarin would be natural now after Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, Chow said.
No time schedule has been set for the schools to make the switch to Mandarin. They will change gradually if the Hong Kong government endorses the shift, said Education and Manpower Secretary Arthur Li.
(Shanghai Daily October 22, 2003)