Linguistic capital: Continuity and change in educational language polices for South Asians in Hong Kong primary schools

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Language-in-education policies within post-colonization, nationalism, and globalization are currently key concerns of the sociology of language as they impact language teaching and learning in multilingual contexts. Despite these concerns, studies of educational language policies for ethnic minorities, in this case, those of South Asians in Hong Kong, are rare. This paper looks at colonial and post-colonial language policies in education with an eye to shedding light on continuity and change of linguistic capital for this group. Given the complexity, contextuality, complicity, complementarity, and continuity of the approach, the research analyzes the influences of educational language policies concerning South Asians, especially at primary school level, in pre- and post-colonial times. It argues that while English linguistic capital predominates during both pre- and post-colonial periods, this predominant status has begun to be shared by Cantonese, which has emerged as the ‘high’ language in post-handover Hong Kong and forms the main barrier for South Asians to learn Chinese as a second language to enable upward mobility in Hong Kong society. Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-263
JournalCurrent Issues in Language Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011



Gao, F. (2011). Linguistic capital continuity and change in educational language policies for South Asians in Hong Kong primary schools. Current Issues in Language Planning, 12(2), 251-263. doi: 10.1080/14664208.2011.609687


  • Language policy
  • Linguistic capital
  • Chinese as a second language
  • Hong Kong
  • Ethnic minorities
  • South Asians