The Education University of Hong Kong. Photo: university handout

Two university students who are not native Chinese speakers have spoken of the difficulties they had overcoming language barriers. Now they hope to become teachers so they can help other people from ethnic minorities who face the same challenges.

Pakistani-born Bibi Aimon, who is studying for a bachelor of English degree at the Education University of Hong Kong, said her father had insisted that she achieve a good grasp of Chinese when she was young, Sing Tao Daily reported.

She had a hard time in her first year at a Chinese secondary school when she couldn’t keep up with other pupils studying the language. Aimon was unhappy and asked many times if she could change schools, but her father refused.

However, there was one advantage that Aimon had over other pupils: her English was much better. As classmates began to ask for her help, she made many Chinese friends and her school life became more enjoyable.

Convinced she can use her knowledge to help other people, Aimon wants to be a teacher.

Jeshua Justin Embuscado, a Filipino in his first year of a bachelor degree in business, accounting and financial studies, said he also struggled to learn  Chinese when he arrived in Hong Kong at the age of five. He recalled that when he entered high school his Chinese language proficiency was about the same as that of a primary school pupil.

After his experience, Justin highly recommended that students from minority backgrounds enrol in Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students), as its structure was more practical than the traditional curriculum.

Applied Learning Chinese is exclusively for non-Chinese speaking students, so they can obtain an alternative Chinese language qualification to enhance their studies and lifestyle.

The curriculum teaches Chinese from a practical viewpoint as it relates to daily lives or specific industry sectors like tourism and hospitality. This kind of content is easier to understand for non-Chinese students.

The APL results are reported as “attained” and “attained with distinction” in the HKDSE, which is the university entry examination. Justin obtained an “attained with distinction” result and met the university’s admission requirements.

He urged the Education Bureau to promote the APL curriculum more to minority groups in the hope it would give them an easier path to further studies or employment.

Eight students who are not native Chinese speakers have been accepted for studies at the Education University of Hong Kong this year.

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