By LIU Xiang, Jack (Jockey Club Academy Hall)

At last I am a final year student. This means I can give humble advice to freshmen, which satisfies not only my helping heart but also my self-esteem. But I have been very careful in giving them advice, because I know that the same piece of advice may not work for everyone.

Reflecting on my own college life, I would be much better off if I had not blindly listened to some of the seniors before. For instance, when I was a foundation year student who could not speak Cantonese and wondered if I would ever be able to speak it, a junior friend told me, "Just speak Mandarin together with English." I listened to him and still could not speak Cantonese well even when some of my mainland peers could speak fluently. The guy who gave me this piece of advice applied for graduate school in the U.S. and left Hong Kong right after graduation. No wonder he did not need to learn Cantonese.

imgAdvice is just something to think about, not something to follow whole-heartedly. It is based on the personal experience of the people who give it and different pieces of advice on the same issue may vary dramatically. What if I had sought advice on Cantonese from a different junior mainland student, who had planned to work in Hong Kong in the future? He would most probably have told me how important Cantonese is and let me know about all the learning resources. But I did not ask him. I asked a junior student who decided to leave Hong Kong and based on his own likes, he would of course tell me not to pay much attention to a language he would not use in the future.

So now when I am asked "Cantonese is so hard to learn! Do I really need to learn it, Jack?", I  say "It depends. Tell me your expectations in Hong Kong first."To be a better listener, you should not just digest other people's advice but also think about the reason why people might give such advice.