Language policies for Hong Kong schools since 1997

Wai Him Vincent KAN, Robert Damian ADAMSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Language in education debates in Hong Kong focus on the role and status of English (as the former colonial language and an important means for international communication); Cantonese, the mother tongue of the majority of the population; and Putonghua, the national language of China. This paper examines the language policy formulated in 1997-1998, and finds that it radically departed from previous policies by mandating the use of Cantonese as the medium of instruction in secondary schools. The paper then analyses two subsequent policy revisions and concludes that, while the tonal emphasis on mother-tongue education has remained, the policy revisions have reversed the language policy to previous practices that emphasised the importance of English. Copyright © 2010 Institute of Education, University of London.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
JournalLondon Review of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


Kan, V., & Adamson, B. (2010). Language policies for Hong Kong schools since 1997. London Review of Education, 8(2), 167-176.


  • English
  • Language
  • Policy
  • Trilingualism
  • Cantonese
  • Putonghua


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