A reality shock: Teaching English through English or Chinese?

Mee Ling LAI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Being trained and told to teach English through English, many pre-service English teacher-trainees find it almost impossible to survive in primary and junior secondary classrooms without using the mother tongue. Facing the gap between theory and practice, many student-teachers may feel disillusioned and puzzled after their first exposure to realistic teaching situations in Hong Kong. In order to find out the extent to which the pre-service English teacher-trainees were affected by the "reality shock," 71 student-teachers at sub-degree level were asked to answer a questionnaire about their attitude towards using Cantonese (L1) in English teaching before their Teaching Practice (TP). After TP, the subjects were asked to answer the same questionnaire again. A t-test was then done to find out if any significant attitude changes had taken place. In addition, the student-teachers were asked to answer a second questionnaire which aims at finding out how much Cantonese they perceived to have used during the TP and their feelings about it. The main aims of this paper are to report the above findings and, more importantly, to discuss what teacher-educators should do to help trainees cope with the English teaching situation in Hong Kong. Copyright © 1996 The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-191
JournalEducation Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


Lai, M.-L. (1996). A reality shock: Teaching English through English or Chinese? Education Journal, 24(2), 173-191.


  • Teaching English
  • Student teacher
  • Cantonese
  • Teaching practice
  • Alt. title: 理想與現實的矛盾:應以英語教授英語,還是以粵語教授英語?


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