Heritage and identity: Ethnic minority students from South Asia in Hong Kong

Ming Yue Michelle GU, John Gideon PATKIN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates the language attitudes, language practices and identity construction of a group of ethnic minority students in a secondary school in Hong Kong. Drawing on data from focus group and individual interviews, this research shows that the ethnic minority students negotiate and contest their heritage identity by utilizing their heritage and the experiences and knowledge they have gained in the host context. In addition, the students construct a counter-discourse to resist the lower social status of their heritage languages and minority identity by maintaining their heritage language, by promoting the dominant status of English and by devaluing the local language; however, these steps may limit their linguistic choices and lead to discrimination against other languages. This paper implies that school administrators and policy makers had better seek to establish a more supportive environment for language learning by immigrant students, and that the students themselves can utilize their multicultural and multilingual backgrounds to empower themselves in the host context and enjoy more equal opportunities. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
JournalLinguistics and Education
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013



Gu, M. Y. M., & Patkin, J. (2013). Heritage and identity: Ethnic minority students from South Asia in Hong Kong. Linguistics and Education, 24(2), 131-141.


  • Identity
  • Language attitudes
  • Language practices
  • Ethnic minority students
  • Hong Kong