Hong Kong’s education centres are riding the ‘up-skilling’ boom but smart parents should look for quality, continuity and the future value, says RAY LAM.
Students in Hong Kong develop Chinese and English bilingual abilities from kindergarten through to high school, and generally have no problem finding such environments to learn in. On the other hand, strengthening linguistic breadth and depth instantly equips one with a competitive advantage, and becomes the backup force for entrance into university and career choices. It is for this reason that Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, German, Italian languages and many more have become the target of people – especially parents – who ride the self-improvement boom. There are obvious increased incentives in learning a new language compared to before, according to Ray Lam who runs Ekimae International Language Centre.
“However,” he warns, “for children to grasp a new ability, often what parents do not realise is the future value versus present persistence and continuity. Therefore in making an analytical decision, one must make sure that these two factors are included.”
As one of the only language centers for early childhood learning in Japanese, Ekimae itself is professional and original where it comes to teaching material, teacher training, and diverse course curriculum. In these aspects we have a firm foundation, and are currently focused on systematic all rounded-ness – for example, in addition to the inherent learning in our Japanese Playgroup class starting from 1.5 years old, as children grow, they can have their pick amongst several courses for the one most suited to their learning objectives.”
Ekimae has set up Japanese study tours in Okinawa and Chiba in the past few years, as well as language courses in Japan, and in the future, career placements in Japan. “This one-stop-service will not only increase market share, it will also offer a more personal service to students and parents,” Lam says.
“I think word of mouth reputation is important for growth of market share. At the same time the quality of teachers and the materials are definitely a competitive factor. We can’t have one without the other,” says Lam.
For example, our center without Ekimae’s excellent original teaching materials, even with a great teacher, will still not be able to continue consistently with high standards, and it is the same vice versa. Possessing good materials without a good teacher would still be underproductive. So, training teachers is also a crucial factor! Aside from that, I believe that for our industry to thrive, we need help from the government. We think that the government funds tertiary institutions to a large extent, but neglects fundamental support.
“Assisting SMEs in the language-education industry enables and supports students to build a firm language foundation and gives them early exposure to the scope and depth of learning. Therefore, government support in this industry towards quality schools will contribute to Hong Kong greatly,” concludes Lam.
For additional information, please visit www.ekimae-center.com