Press Releases in Hong Kong

7 head to finals of English-speaking event

Regional winners of the national English-speaking contest the 21st Century Cup in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region pose for photos on Saturday with judges, guests and organizers at an awards presentation ceremony at the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Seven Hong Kong students will represent the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the national finals of the 21st Century Cup, a prestigious English-speaking contest.

The seven were champions from the categories Junior Primary, Senior Primary, Junior Secondary, Senior Secondary, and University, plus two runners-up. They were among the 49 students commended for their outstanding English-speaking skills and insights on public affairs at the awards ceremony of the Hong Kong regional finals of the contest on Saturday.

The competitors delivered speeches on topics such as ensuring sustainable food resources, protecting marine ecosystems, and making personal life plans.

Some students introduced China’s latest efforts and achievements in their speeches on environmental protection, like stricter policies to reduce the use of disposable plastics.

Hong Kong winners of the 21st Century Cup, held by China Daily and VDO English, pose for a group photo with the mascot Panda Chan of VDO English, plus guests and organizers. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong winners of the 21st Century Cup, held by China Daily and VDO English, pose for a group photo with the mascot Panda Chan of VDO English, plus guests and organizers. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong winners of the 21st Century Cup, held by China Daily and VDO English, pose for a group photo with the mascot Panda Chan of VDO English, plus guests and organizers. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

In his keynote speech, Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung lavished praises on the students’ performance, saying that it showed the students’ deep understanding of the nation and the highly globalized world we live in.

Throughout the competition, the young contestants had further developed their interests in Chinese culture, Chinese history, and national development, as well as their strong sense of national identity, he added.

The occasion was a good chance to celebrate the success of Hong Kong students who demonstrated their communication and English public-speaking skills — essential abilities in the 21st century, he added.

Yeung also said the exchange of views between students in Hong Kong and the mainland on contemporary issues that matter to their communities will be valuable.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung delivers the keynote address at the beginning of the ceremony. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Zhou Li, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily Group and the publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific, agreed with Yeung, saying the event gives students a chance to broaden their horizons, foster a strong sense of national identity, develop critical thinking, and global perspectives.

It also allows Hong Kong youngsters to consider the whole country and embrace a worldview, he said.

The competition covered a wide range of topics, including environmental protection, history, humanities, and science and technology.

Wong Man-yan, the Junior Secondary winner from St. Paul’s Co-educational College, said she has already started preparing for the national finals, which she sees as more challenging. The national finals will include a speech on the topic “The Promise of Youth”, focusing on the responsibility of the younger generation to the country’s future development, she said.

The special guest, Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, talks to Aden Su Yue-sheng, the champion of the Senior Primary division. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Man-yan’s schoolmate Isabelle Ho Yan-ching scooped up the Senior Secondary top prize. Man-yan said she believes she and Ho benefited from the English school’s emphasis on English-speaking skills, like the “vigorous” four-round English-speaking assessment each term, and systematic training in the debate teams.

Alan Wong, a native-English-speaking teacher at Ning Po College, said he already is looking forward to the next year’s competition, and he encourages all of his students to give it a try. The secondary school received the “Active Award for School Participation” this year with 16 student participants.

“It is our school’s belief that when students are exposed to a wide range of English competitions, not only can they gain relevant academic experiences, but they also get motivated to enhance their English-language skills when they can apply what they have learned from school in real life,” he said.

Regional finalists of the English-speaking competition display their honorary certificates for a group photo with guests and organizers. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

For Junior Primary category champion Trinity Hsu Chuo-yan, the golden trophy marked her success in challenging herself. After coming in third last year, she has been practicing to overcome her stage fright.

“When judges asked me questions, I told myself, ‘I am not scared of them. I got my bravery,’” she said.

Trinity’s mother, Eva Hsu, agreed. “Now Trinity knows that as long as she tries her best, she can achieve more. I think that is a very important lesson in her life,” she said.

Singer and ceremony guest performer Purple Lee Chi-yan said she can feel the energy and confidence of Hong Kong’s young students. She attributes these qualities to their experiences of public speaking.

Guest performer Purple Lee Chi-yan sings at the ceremony with Panda Chan and students of Tuen Mun Government Primary School. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Just like singing and acting, interest and enjoyment are the best motivators for language learning, she said.

The competition, sponsored and established by China Daily, was launched in 1996 to improve students’ spoken English and foster their spirit of innovation.

The regional contest, organized by China Daily and VDO English, an online English learning platform developed by China Daily, has attracted more than 1,000 student participants from over 100 schools in Hong Kong since its inaugural event in 2017.

Over 150 contestants, teachers and family members of students attended Saturday’s ceremony.