Ethnicity, language-in-education policy and linguistic discrimination: Perspectives of Nepali students in Hong Kong

Chura Bahadur THAPA, Robert Damian ADAMSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Educational issues in relation to ethnicity and language education policies have been underexplored in Asian contexts. In particular, issues related to ethnic and linguistic minority students have not received much attention in the post-colonial context of Hong Kong. This paper highlights challenges and tensions faced by Nepali ethnic minority students in two Hong Kong schools arising from language policies adopted by the post-colonial government. Based on data arising from interviews with 28 secondary school Nepali students in 2013 and 2014, and an observation of two schools with a sizeable population of Nepali ethnic minority students over a period of more than two years, this paper investigates how students face the pressures of learning through the medium of either English or spoken Cantonese and written Chinese. Analysis of the data reveals that these students face inequities in schools due to neglect of attention to their overall educational development, discrimination in the institutional settings, and lack of opportunities to maintain their own heritage language and identity. Based on the findings, this paper proposes a multilingual education model for ethnic minority students, drawing on the models set out in Adamson and Feng (2014. "Models for Trilingual Education in the People's Republic of China." In Minority Languages and Multilingual Education, edited by D. Gorter, V. Zenotz, and J. Cenoz, 29–44. Dordrecht: Springer), which has potential to redress the balance. 

Issues relating to ethnic and linguistic minority students in the post-colonial context of Hong Kong have received limited attention from policy makers and researchers. This paper highlights the challenges faced by Nepalese students in two Hong Kong schools. Based on data arising from interviews with 28 secondary school students in 2013 and 2014, and an observation of two schools with a sizeable population of Nepalese students over a period of more than two years, this paper investigates how students handle the experiences of learning in an environment where English is the medium of instruction, and spoken Cantonese and written Chinese are the main modes of communication for school management. Analysis of the data suggests that ethnic and linguistic minority students face inequities in schools due to neglect of attention to their overall educational development, discrimination in the school settings, and lack of opportunities to maintain their own heritage language and identity. The paper concludes by proposing an alternative model of multilingual education for ethnic minority students that has potential to redress the balance. Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-340
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Volume39
Issue number4
Early online dateOct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Citation

Thapa, C. B., & Adamson, B. (2018). Ethnicity, language-in-education policy and linguistic discrimination: Perspectives of Nepali students in Hong Kong. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 39(4), 329-340. doi: 10.1080/01434632.2017.1389947

Keywords

  • Ethnicity
  • Language policy
  • Hong Kong
  • Language minorities
  • Ethnic identity
  • Nepali
  • Nepalese
  • Minorities
  • Identity
  • Alt. title: Language policy, ethnicity and education: Challenges for Nepalese students in Hong Kong

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