One country, two systems, three languages: A proposal for teaching Cantonese, Putonghua and English in Hong Kong's schools

Thomas Andrew KIRKPATRICK, Ho Fai Michael CHAU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Combining local, national and international languages – the last almost exclusively English in fact – is one of the most pressing issues facing educational professionals in today’s world. How and when can English be introduced to the school curriculum so that children still master literacy in local and national languages? Hong Kong’s language policy aims for its citizens to be trilingual in Cantonese, Putonghua and English and biliterate in Chinese and English. The current policy is that Cantonese should be the medium of instruction for all government primary schools, where English and Putonghua are taught as subjects. The majority of secondary schools are also Chinese medium, but about a quarter are English medium schools. Recently the government has signaled a possible controversial change in policy, as it has authorized a trial for ‘Chinese subjects’ to be taught through Putonghua in selected schools. At the same time ‘consumer’ demand for English is constantly heard. This paper will purpose a ‘multilingual’ solution to the medium of instruction policy. First, medium of instruction policies and practices in Hong Kong will be reviewed and then possible future developments will be considered. Finally, a way of combining the local language (Cantonese), the national language (Putonghua) and the international language (English) in the school curriculum will be proposed. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-45
JournalAsian Englishes
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Citation

Kirkpatrick, A., & Chau, M. (2008). One country, two systems, three languages: A proposal for teaching Cantonese, Putonghua and English in Hong Kong's schools. Asian Englishes, 11(2), 32-45.

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