English Books Reading List

We here at Hong Kong Education Blog cannot emphasize more the importance of reading to one’s English abilities!

So with this blog post, we are giving you a list of suggested books that sort by difficulty so everyone can find suitable books for themselves :).

Do you have any good books you want to share?

Just e-mail us at hkeduBlog@gmail.com

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GLOBAL DIGNITY DAY 2013

上個星期三去了位於倫敦北部的High Gate School替Global Dignity Day做義工,跟一班中學生分享尊嚴、人權等概念。活動是由一個名叫Just for Kids Law的組織舉辦的工作坊,主題圍繞 “dignity” 的概念。工作坊雖然為時短短三個小時,但透過一些辯論、問答、分享、遊戲等,大家都對於何謂尊嚴、怎樣才能有尊嚴等問題,作出了深刻的反思。

外國學生活躍互動、愛問問題,敢於挑戰權威,勇於創新,這些是老生常談,不必多說,工作坊期間他們提出了兩個很有意思的問題。第一個是在我們討論何謂尊嚴的時候,工作紙上其中一個選項是 “…fighting for what you believe in at all costs”,班上大多數人都選了這句最能代表尊嚴的概念,但其中一個女孩子表示反對。她對 “at all costs” 這三個字提出質疑,舉例說當日希特拉領導納粹德國屠殺猶太人,侵略他國,都是不計代價去做自己相信是對的事,難道這又值得鼓勵嗎?全班沉默了一會兒,最後他們決定再次討論這道命題,得出結論:不能為了自己的尊嚴踐踏他人的尊嚴,人與人之間的尊嚴是互相連繫、依賴的,因此這個句子要作出更正。期間我們兩個負責帶領討論的義工沒有介入他們的辯論,任由他們自由發揮.

接著我們再做下一份工作紙,要同學就幾個選項排序,討論哪一個行為最能彰顯尊嚴,其中比較熱門的包括反對性別、種族歧視的公民抗命/示威,也有人選幫助別人。很多人都選擇了反對性別和種族歧視,然後其中一名男生表示反對。他指出雖然反對性別和種族歧視有意義,但某程度上爭取者所爭取的是自己的權益,有利己的因素,相反幫助別人就比較利他,更有尊嚴性。接著又有人提出,那麼男人為女性爭取權益又怎樣說呢?幫助人會令自己心理上好過,又算不算利己呢?當然這樣的辯論最終沒有共識,也沒有答案,到底爭取的東西是有利於自己會否損害它的正當性,可否以這樣的標準來訂定尊嚴性,老實說是頗形而上的問題。

不過沒有結論也不重要,關鍵的是在過程中他們顯示出兩樣東方尤其華人社會教育最缺乏的特質-批判思維和人權的基礎教育。東方和西方的教育方針完全是兩碼子的事:我們的教育從小到大,基本立論第一是對權威的服從,包括校長、老師、父母、校規的聽命,雖然未至於極權式的絕對服從,但灌輸的價值觀基本上就是如此,第二是對「正確答案」的服從,大家想想由中學小學到大學,學生對model answer、marking scheme的趨之若騖,原因跟我們的考試模式息息相關。相比起外國鼓勵批判思維、獨立思考、創新和挑戰所謂權威。還有人權、自由、民主等作為基礎教育的一部份,他們在中小學時期已經開始接觸這些概念,所以自小已經扎根成為核心價值之一,我們(起碼筆者的一代)真是在大學在正式接受這些概念的教育的,還要因為我的學術背景才有這樣的機會。

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

後記

身為法律學生,一直都想做一些pro bono work(即與法律有關的義務工作),但在香港機會不多,而且礙於俗務纏身,一路都沒有做到。直至來到UCL,聽了Law Society一個關於pro bono的講座,發覺這邊比起香港對pro bono重視得多,而且可以參與的機會也較多。Global Dignity Day是其中之一,當時想雖然不是跟法律有直接關係,但見跟人權議題有關,而且頗有意義,所以就報名參加了,事實證明,我這個決定正確。未來一年,我希望有機會參與大量的pro bono work,體驗更多。

General tips on choosing ECA’s

As schools are looking more and more for all-rounded development in students,  the Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) of students become more and more important. Many schools even require students to learn at least one type of sports, musical instrument, or  language.

While at first sight it may seem troublesome or difficult to maintain your grades while being good at ECAs, in fact being involved in ECAs may often help your grades instead of hurt it – you just need to approach it wisely.

So here are our most general points for you when you choose your ECAs:

  1. Interest is king
    You must choose something you are genuinely interested in! If you really enjoy your ECA, it can serve as a break/ rest from your studies and help your studies. But if your ECAs are just another chore, then it can negatively affect your school work.
  2. Try more things when young, concentrate later on
    The trick to find something you are really interested in is to just try a lot of things. Don’t limit yourself to a few categories (trying jazz, ballet and waltz is not good – try something diverse like soccer, ballet and fencing instead). But as you get older, you should drop the ones you are not most interested in and focus on your favorite ones. Being good beats being board in this case.
  3. Work hard to join/start school clubs and teams
    ECA’s are much more fun when done with friends! Or you can even meet many new friends through your ECA’s. Moreover, school clubs and teams often give you free training and provide you with opportunities to compete. Don’t be discouraged if your school team above your standard – you will only achieve your best when you interact with people better than you!

There is really a reason why schools try to encourage people to take up more ECA’s. They can really inspire you as a person and provide you with much fun and challenge along the way. So just being proactive and try new things, and you just might find the perfect ECA for yourself.

As schools are looking more and more for all-rounded development in students, the Extra-curricular activities (ECAs) of students become more and more important. Many schools even require students to learn one type of sports, musical instrument, or even language.

While at first sight it may seem troublesome or difficult to maintain your grades while being good at ECAs, in fact being involved in ECAs may often help your grades instead of hurt it – you just need to approach it wisely.

So here are our most general points for you when you choose your ECA:

  1. Interest is king
    You must choose something you are genuinely interested in! If you really enjoy your ECA, it can serve as a break/ rest from your studies and help your studies. But if your ECAs are just another chore, then it can negatively affect your school work.

  2. Try more things when young, concentrate on a few when old
    The trick to find something you are really interested in is to just try a lot of things. Don’t limit yourself to a few categories (trying jazz, ballet and waltz is not good – try something diverse like soccer, ballet and fencing instead). But as you get older, you should drop the ones you are not most interested in and focus on your favorite ones. Being good beats being board in this case.

  3. Work hard to join/start school clubs and teams
    ECA’s are much more fun when done with friends! Or you can even meet many new friends through your ECA’s. Moreover, school clubs and teams often give you free training and provide you with competition opportunities. Don’t be discouraged if your school team above your standard – you will only achieve your best when you interact with people better than you!

There is really a reason why schools try to encourage people to take up more ECA’s. They can really inspire you as a person and provide you with much fun and challenge along the way. So just being proactive and try new things, and you just might find the perfect ECA for yourself.

SAT一切須知

SAT Reasoning Test 是報讀美國大學的程序中至為關鍵的一環;這是考生之間作為比較的準則。鑑於它的重要性,我們決定另開一個條目以作介紹。

簡介
SAT 由 College Board所管理。 你需要登入其 official website, 創建一個新帳號,並報名參加考試。切記SAT每年只會舉辦六次。雖然官方的報名期限是於考試舉行前一個月截止的,但事實上報名人數眾多,一般而言名額很快就 會額滿(尤其內地學生也會來香港應試,所以這個問題更需注意)。報名時間比較晚的同學,則有可能要對離自己較遠的試場(如新界等)應該,十分不便;更甚 地,如果報名太遲的話,最壞情況下可能連應考機會也落空。

應考準備機構一覽
坊間許多著名的應考準備機構,如Kaplan, The Edge, Princeton Review 等,皆可在考試準備及手續等事情上助你一臂之力。這些機構提供許多解決困難考題的方法,也有它自己的一系列模擬測驗。參加這些機構所提供的課程,確實有助於提升你的SAT成績;然而,這些機構不是神仙,它們對提升你成績的助力也是有其限度的,如在2400的滿分下,把你的分數從1800提升到2050等。如閣下想要獲得比這些分數更高的成績(詳情請參考我們的 如何比較SAT, HKCEE, HKDSE, GCE, IB 的成績? 比較表),那就要多下苦功了。

關於三大考試範疇的詳細分析:

閱讀
閱讀理解是大部分本地考生最為聞風喪膽的一環。遺憾的,對付這種考題不能抄捷徑,只能踏踏實實打好自己的語言底子。

  1. 首先,嘗試每天閱讀短篇的文章,並以閱讀一次就能明白文章內容為目標。
  2. 嘗試閱讀不同種類的文章,如小說、古典文學、日常時事,或各種報章雜誌。
  3. 為自己計時。如你需要以3分鐘閱讀一份800字的論文,嘗試令其減至2,甚至1分鐘。這是因為在閱讀理解的部分,考生必須以20分鐘閱讀5篇文章,且以其內容回答20或更多條題目。因此,快速且準確的掌握文章要點,是至為關鍵的。
  4. 擴充自己的生字量。你知道越多英文生字,你對文章的了解就越透徹。我們建議,你購買內有SAT生字表的書本(如 Barron’s)。你可以每天一頁的進度,慢慢熟習生字表中所有的生字。當然最後你未必可以全部熟記,但在考試當日許多生字都會出現。即便這些生字沒有出現,你的英語程度也會在熟讀生字表後大大提升,對你百利而無一害。當然,你必須及早開始!

寫作
對許多香港考生而言,這個部分的難度在閱讀部分及數學部分之間。若要獲得高分,文章則需要有相當長度。

  1. 還是需要每天練習,嘗試於25分鐘內寫出一段短篇文章。如認為難度太高,則可以35分鐘為限,努力達至在25分鐘內完成目標。
  2. 寫文時,緊記跟隨標準的 5段寫作法 (即引言、論點一、論點二、論點三、結論,詳情請看我們以後推出的寫文教學篇章)。再次強調,凡事皆需用功;寫得越多,也就寫得越好。

至於寫作部分裡的多重選擇題,大多數憑常識、直覺都能解決。而即便問題不是如此直接,多加練習,也就能更準確地看出題種。考生通常忽略的常見錯誤,如parallelism等,在SAT的應試參考書,及上面論及的應試準備課程中一般都會提及;這也是對應試有莫大助力的。

數學
雖然許多香港考生都認為數學是三大範疇中最簡單的一項,事實上卻不是如此簡單。這是因為,認為考試題目簡單的可能不止你一人;你將會有不少競爭對手。切記,SAT是曲線擬合(亦即俗稱的「拉curve」)的。這個制度進行得嚴謹的時候(亦即當許多考生皆表現優異的時候),做錯一題則可能令你的分數從800跌至780,而再錯一題,則會令你再丟失20分,不容小覷。

  1. 考前一天,切記睡眠充足
  2. 審題謹慎
  3. 即使你提早完成問題,最好重新翻看一次答案,確保無誤。

對有意提升自己英語程度的考生,可參考以下文章: https://hkedu.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/how-can-local-school-students-excel-in-english/

祝你考試順利!

Guest blogger at Geoschools

 

We were recently invited to write a guest article for Geoschools.

The article discussed which exams students can choose from in Hong Kong:

So Many Exams to Choose From

Geoschools did a great work in editing and adding spice to the article :). Also, Geoschools is a great information source for parents and students who want to learn more about education in Hong Kong, so I would suggest interested parties to check out their site.

HKEDU Blog