South Asian students’ Chinese language learning in Hong Kong: Motivations and strategies

Mark S.K. SHUM, Fang GAO, Linda TSUNG, Wing-Wah KI

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24 Citations (Scopus)


This paper offers insights into an under-researched area of Chinese language learning among Hong Kong's less affluent South Asians, a group whose members have often been stereotyped as unable to function in the Chinese medium instruction (CMI) teaching system. Data were collected from a survey of approximately 300 South Asian secondary school students and from follow-up semi-structured interviews with 30 student participants. By cross-examining students’ language competency and practice in Chinese, English and mother language(s), the research found that South Asian students, even though in a majority language environment, invest less in Chinese language learning and practice. Their language motivation is instrumentally driven and there is a lack of adequate family support for learning Chinese. It thus highlights the role of schooling and teachers’ support in Chinese language learning as the main remedy for insufficient parental involvement. This research argues that in order to attain high competency in the Chinese language, which is considered important for upward mobility, there is an urgent need for teachers and researchers to understand the limited use that students make of the Chinese language and to develop a suitable teaching pedagogy for fostering language motivations. Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-297
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011



Shum, M. S. K., Gao, F., Tsung, L., & Ki, W.-W. (2011). South Asian students’ Chinese language learning in Hong Kong: Motivations and strategies. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(3), 285-297. doi: 10.1080/01434632.2010.539693


  • Chinese language
  • South Asian
  • Motivation
  • Strategy