Narrative Development in School-age South Asian Children in Hong Kong

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    This proposed study will examine the development of Cantonese narrative in ethnic minority children of Hong Kong, with a special focus on three sub-groups, namely, Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese, who are commonly called South Asians (SA hereafter). Despite public concerns and recent efforts made by the Hong Kong government in helping these children develop their language proficiency in Chinese, their oral narrative in Cantonese, which is an important component for children’s school success, has not been duly examined and documented. The absence of such research evidence could be a hindrance for the development of an effective Chinese language education programme to these ethnic minority children. Narrative, as pointed out by Bruner (1991), is one main mode of human thought in which human actions and intentions can be interpreted and organized with internal consistency and social value. It is an important tool for socialization (Miller, Wiley, Fung, & Liang, 1997) and transmission of cultural knowledge (Campbell, 1988). The development of narrative starts from children’s personal narratives, with scaffolding support by adults (McCabe & Peterson 2004). In addition to social interactions with adults, language and cognition are major determinants of children’s narrative development, with which children organize and refer to events that can be understood as socially meaningful (Bohanek, Fivush, & Duke, 2006). Upon some initial explorations of personal narrative, children can then advance to the development of decontextualized speech, the ability to speak about and understand events in the past or in the future, a major precursor to literacy development (Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998). To examine the development of Cantonese narrative in SA children of Hong Kong, this project will adopt a cross-sectional correlational design in which their narratives will be collected at two different time points, with 10 months of interval in between. Three groups of primary school SA children, at grade 1, 3 and 5, each with 30 children will be examined. Age-matched native Cantonese children from the same school will also be tested as controls. Two elicitation tasks, personal experience sharing and picture-story retelling will be used for collecting narrative samples. Standardized oral Cantonese assessment tool and Chinese language assessment tool will also be administered for investigating their contributions to narrative development.

    Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
    Effective start/end date01/01/1531/12/17


    • language development
    • ethnic minority
    • narrative


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