SCMP Saturday, November 18, 2000

Cabbies hit out at language kits


Taxi drivers were yesterday offered free CD and cassette kits to improve their English and Putonghua - but some complained the lessons were too difficult and they were too old to learn.
The Government's Workplace English Campaign Steering Committee is offering the language kits and access to an Internet learning programme to all 40,000 drivers.
The drivers' language skills have often been criticised as too basic. The kits cover simple exchanges such as greetings, asking for destinations and collecting fares.
But Taxi Operators Association chairman Leung Shiu-cheong said the language level of the kits was too advanced.
"The kits are too complicated and aren't what we were expecting at all," Mr Leung said, adding that the committee had not consulted drivers about the content.
Committee chairman Michael Tien Pak-sun said the learning tools were tailor-made for drivers so they could improve their language skills during their spare time, including waiting for passengers at taxi stops.
"The key to language learning is to listen frequently; listen to it whenever there is a chance," he said.
Mr Tien said the programme cost nearly $300,000 and similar learning kits would be made for the retail and catering sectors.