This paper explores the complex and changing language situation in Hong Kong, with particular reference to factors that have lead to a decline in mother-tongue education and growing parental insistence on English medium education. The emergence of non-complying English medium schools has been accompanied by a rise in the phenomena of code-switching and code-mixing in this type of Hong Kong secondary school. It is suggested that these classroom strategies, as well as the tendency to use language avoidance teaching and assessment strategies may have had a detrimental impact on English language proficiency. It is against this background that the paper outlines the medium of instruction policies of the Hong Kong government over the past ten years and the resulting situation in the schools and classrooms. The focus is particularly on the situation prior to the irm guidance' issues to secondary schools in the summer of 1997 by the new government of the Hong Kong, Special Administration region of China. The nature of that guidance and the rationale behind it are also examined, as are reactions to this guidance and their initial impact. The purpose of this initiative is seen as an attempt to reverse the decline in mother tongue education and remove the negative impact of mixed-code switching. However, it is seen as creating an elite English medium education system, greater competition within the education system itself which may ultimately defeat the purpose of the policy. The paper concludes by examining various immersion programmes in other bilingual societies and tries to assess their relevance to Hong Kong.
|Publication status||Published - 1999|