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Bilingual flag-raising ceremony in primary school sparks debate
Latest Updated by 2006-11-22 10:09:17
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Bilingual flag-raising ceremony in primary school sparks debate

An elementary school in Luohu District has been conducting a national flag-raising ceremony in both Putonghua (Mandarin) and English, which has provoked a heated online debate.

Shenzhen Pearl School requires its students to conduct the weekly ceremony in the two languages, the school headmaster, Chen Yingzhong, was quoted by the Southern Metropolis Daily as saying.

Chen said that as a bilingual school, the school requires all activities to be conducted in English and Putonghua, adding that "this is very unique to my school." He argued that many State-level activities are also organized in the two languages.

Chen said one student representative is selected every week to deliver a presentation in English at the ceremony after the flag is raised. "The practice is to cultivate an English-speaking atmosphere on campus and encourage the students to overcome the shyness to speak English loud."

Responding to critics who have said that the practice would lead to an identity crisis, Chen said: "Speaking English when raising national flag does not undermine the significance of patriotism in education."

A man surnamed Wang, who started a debate on the Web site, said the flag-hoisting ceremony traditionally encourages patriotism, and no part of it should be conducted in English.

The view is shared by other Internet users, who say that it is ridiculous to observe the national flag being raised while listening to an English speech. "It causes confusion of identity among children," a man calling himself "breeze" said.

However, the school's decision is supported by most of the students' parents. "The advantage of bilingual education is one of the reasons I send my child to this school," said a woman only identified as Huang.

Editor: Donald

By: Claudia Wei Source: Szdaily web edition
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