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Language planning and Policy Language Policies for Hong Kong Schools since 1997 08-04-2013 Prepared by: Wissam Ali Askar & R. A. Hong Kong

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slide1

Language planning and Policy

Language Policies for Hong Kong Schools since 1997

08-04-2013

Prepared by:

Wissam Ali Askar & R. A.

slide2

Hong Kong

General background

  • About 95% of the population are ethnically Chinese.
  • The majority of Hong Kong people are ethnic Chinese, originally from Guangdong prominence.
  • They speak different dialects , however Cantonese is the dominant dialect and is also the lingua franca among the local Chinese (Fung tam, 2011).
  • English was the only official language until 1974, when the official language Ordinance was enacted to make Chinese a secondary official language of the colony.
  • For more than a century, English has been the language of administration, law and education. It also the language of communication (wong & Kam, 2000).
table of content
Table of content
  • Introduction
  • Language policies in colonial times (1841-1997)
  • The post-handover language policy
  • Medium of instruction Guidance for Secondary schools
  • The Education Commission Report reviewing the MoI for secondary schools
  • Fine-tuning the Medium of instruction for secondary schools
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Introduction

  • English language
  • Cantonese language
  • Putonghua language
  • Schools in Hong Kong
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Cantonese is spoken by approximately (97%) of the population. Since 1960, Cantonese has formed a part of distinctive Hong Kong culture.

  • The vernacular of Cantonese, with its distinctive vocabulary and turn of phrase doesn’t exist in one-to-one relationship with the available characters and structures of standard written Chinese.

Different forms of lexis and grammar

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Putonghua had a low status in Hong Kong for many years before the preparation for the handover began in 1980.

  • In 1955, it was adopted as the standard language of the people’s Republic of China.
  • The traditional, full-form characters are still used in Hong Kong.
  • The Case of English language.
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Language policies in colonial times

Colonial elitism(1860-1950)

  • Education initially served the interest of the colonial rulers, creating a buffer class of educated elite from the local population. This educated elite tended to be fluent in English and an increasing number studied at British Universities.
  • By 1930, the government provision of schooling expanded.
  • The curriculum was not keeping track with Hong Kong’s development as an entrepot port and light manufacturing centre, and not with the modernization of Chinese in the republican era.
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In 1950, the government permitted the establishment of schools using Chinese as the medium of instruction (CMI) to serve for the burgeoning population, while maintaining a large proportion of English-medium (EMI) schools.

  • By 1990, more than 90% of secondary schools remained EMI. Most primary school CMI.
  • Many parents favoured those that had a reputation for achieving good results in English.
  • Bridge programmes were established to help students move from CMI to EMI education.
  • Most secondary schools still chose to be an EMI school.
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The purpose is to identify linguistic priorities of the three language policy and specifically in respect of the medium of instruction (MoI) for secondary schools.

  • The analysis also considers whether the Hong Kong government has instigated what Cummins (2000) describes as:
  • Coercive policy
  • Collaborative policy
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The post handover language policy

  • The interplay between Cantonese, English and Putonghua was addressed in the government’s goal of establishing a “biliterate and trilingual” society.
  • Cantonese was associated with enhanced student learning.
  • Increased attention had been given to Putonghua in the school curriculum.
  • English remained a powerful force
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In 1997, the Education Department issued the “Medium of instruction Guidance for secondary schools“.

Policy objectives and means of the Guidance:

1. To enable students to learn effectively, to be biliterate and trilingual.

Policy means Cantonese, English and Putonghua are all featured in the secondary 1-3 curriculum, either as a MoI or as a subject.

2. To commit to promoting mother tongue teaching.

Policy means 1.The majority (75%) of secondary schools must teach all academic subjects from secondary 1-3 in Chinese

2. Limited school based autonomy for secondary 4 and 5, complete school based autonomy for secondary 6 and 7.

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3. To introduce measures under the MoI Guidance, to enable schools and parents to see for themselves the benefits of mother tongue teaching.

Policy means Official statistics compiled from Medium of Instruction Grouping Assessments, and the secondary school places allocation list.

4. To strengthen the teaching and learning of English in CMI schools.

Policy means Provision for additional English teachers, classes, teaching aids and library grants.

5. To monitor progress to see how best to achieve the ultimate objective of the language policy.

Policy means Triennial review and a three year longitudinal study on the first batch of cross-over students

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The actual outcomes of this policy can be argued through two developments:

  • The Education commission Report reviewing the MoI for secondary schools and the secondary school places allocation(2005).
  • The Fine-tuning of the MoI (2009).
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The education commission commissioned a working group to review the implementation of the guidance and to give recommendations on change, if any, to the policy on MoI.

The substantive recommendations were:

  • Uphold the existing policy on CMI for S1 – S3
  • Modify the criteria for schools wishing to adopt EMI.
  • Enhance English proficiency in schools by:
  • Extending learning activities
  • Increasing learning resourses
  • Providing English enhancement schemes
  • Enriching the language environment
  • Increasing teacher’s professional development
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Arguments on “what is best for our students” by the government and “what is best for our children” from the parents.

  • A statistic included in the education commission Report revealed the number of schools switching away from CMI to EMI at secondary 4, where the guidance allowed for some school based autonomy, was approximately 50% at the time, which indicated that there were only marginally fewer EMI senior secondary classes after a five year implementation of enforced mother tongue education.
  • Only a handful of schools sought to maintain CMI in the senior secondary school even with the benefit of five years of mother tongue education experience.
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The recommendation of the report effectively made the following evaluation on the outcome of the guidance:

  • The English proficiency was viewed in the community as a singular standard of success for biliteracy and trilingualism.
  • Five years of implementation had not changed the fact that the general demand for EMI schools exceeded the allowable benchmark set by the guidance.
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The substance of the Fine-tuning (2009) was modestly outlined in three sub-objectives:

1. To increase exposure to English for secondary 1 to secondary 3 students.

2. To allow greater school based autonomy on the choice of MoI.

3. To remove the differentiation between CMI and EMI schools

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In short, the Fine-tuning is saying “given our conviction in the benefits of mother tongue education, we will encourage schools to teach more English, and to teach more subjects in English”.

Conclusion

  • Government intervention to promote, at the rhetorical level at least, the educational interests of students, has failed to unite the threads, so the task is once more left to the market forces of lobbying by interest groups, parental choice and curriculum decision making by schools. This resolution reflects the preferences of pre-and post handover governments in Hong Kong for collaborative rather than coercive policy.
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References

Fung tam, A. C. (2011). Does the switch of medium of instruction facilitate the language learning of students? A case study of Hong Kong from teacher’s perspective. Language and Education. 25(5),398-417, doi: 10.1080/09500782.2011.573076

Wong, R. Y. and Kam, H. W.(2000). Language policies and language education. Singapore: Times Academic Press