Mission and challenge: A case study on supporting the non-Chinese speaking students integrate into the local education system in an aided multiethnic school in Hong Kong

Miu Ling Eva WONG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Hong Kong is an international city, with people of different races. In recent years, the number of people from South Asia, especially from Nepal, Pakistan, and India, is rising rapidly. Increasingly more of them are choosing to study in public schools, where learning the Chinese language is compulsory. However, the Chinese language is too difficult for them to learn, and their failure in the public examination usually presents an obstacle to further study in universities as well as to their career prospects in Hong Kong. Moreover, many non-Chinese-speaking (NCS) students have experienced racial discrimination in daily life in public transport, public places, and schools in Hong Kong. They find it difficult to make friends with the local people because they do not know Cantonese or use inaccurate pronunciations. Since 2006, the mission to provide formal education to NCS students was buttressed by ‘designated schools’ which were nominated by the Education Bureau (EDB) to admit more NCS students. However, recent complaints regarding the allocation of NCS children in multiethnic schools as a form of cultural segregation and discrimination has resulted in an increasing demand for spaces in mainstream schools where Chinese is the main medium of instruction. Hence, NCS students have to face more difficulties in learning and in managing interactions with local students. In this research, a case study of a multiethnic school was performed to examine the major challenges faced by the non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students when learning Chinese and how the school helped these students overcome their challenges. How the multiethnic school developed a suitable environment for promoting multicultural integration and harmony in the school was also studied. Through investigations of school documents, observation of lessons and activities, and discussion with teachers and students, the school was determined to have applied a suitable range of strategies to provide pleasurable and productive language learning experiences for its students. However, regardless of what the multiethnic school does, it is still seemingly impossible to help all the NCS students overcome their major difficulties in learning the Chinese language, especially regarding reading and writing. Moreover, it was determined that the school had worked diligently to develop an inclusive environment for the students and hence it is inaccurate to claim that the NCS students are disadvantaged by studying in a multiethnic school. Conversely, multiethnic schools have a substantial role to play in helping newly arrived NCS students learn Chinese in a more strategic manner and grow up happily with their NCS peers. NCS students who are born in Hong Kong may study in mainstream schools to be immersed in a richer Chinese language environment. Professional matching of the right school for the right student after careful consideration of the life plan and ability of individual students should be performed by the government. Helping the teachers of mainstream schools prepare to teach the NCS students is also an urgent task of the Education Bureau. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • TSE, Ka Ho 謝家浩, Supervisor
  • WONG, Ping Ho, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Minorities -- Education -- Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2016


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