1999．第8卷第2期（Vol. 8 No. 2）．pp. 112
Characteristics of the Putonghua Subject and Putonghua Teacher Training in Hong Kong
Every year at The Hong Kong Institute of Education , the training programme for secondary and primary school teachers is confronted by the same issue : teachers who are there to receive on-the-job training always regard the subject of Putonghua in their schools as equivalent to the Chinese Language subject taught in Putonghua. This approach, however, not only undermines the teachers' ability to analyse the problems that exist among their students of Putonghua, but also poses some hindrance to their own studies of instructional methodology. In order to alleviate this problem, we have to begin with understanding the Putonghua subject itself, examining and thereby defining the characteristics this subject should have. Once defined, such characteristics or properties will serve as the basis for setting teaching goals, selecting teaching methods and approaches, and determining the contents of the curriculum. All these issues actually are also fundamental issues of the Putonghua subject per se.
The properties of a language subject are determined by and large by the language environment of the society, as well as by the needs the society has for people with good communicative abilities in that language. Hong Kong is different from all other cities in China in that the present lingual environment is not conducive to having Putonghua taught as a first language in school. Besides, the Putonghua subject in Hong Kong at the moment is a separate subject which is different from the Chinese Language subject. Hence, it should have its own functions and serve different purposes. In the first half of this paper, we will study the nature of the subject of Putonghua in Hong Kong schools and establish its characteristics. In the second half, we identify and discuss the problems in the area of teacher training that we face in Hong Kong today.