Start from the beginning: Dynamic enrichment learning mode (DELM) for kindergarteners who learn Chinese as a second language in Hong Kong

Ka Yee Elizabeth LOH, Sing Pui Tikky TO-CHAN, Che Ying KWAN

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


There is about 17,000 kindergarteners (i.e. young kids aged 3 to 6 years old) learning Chinese as a second language (CSL) in Hong Kong (HK). Previous research shows that these children’s Chinese language (CL) ability is at least 3 years behind their native Chinese counterparts while encountering difficulties in learning. It is also a challenge for the teachers to cater for such huge learning diversity, as HK kindergartens (for 3- to 6-year-olds) mainly use the theme-based approach without deliberate consideration of CL curriculum (HKEDB, 2006). Without professional training in CSL teaching, teachers have little knowledge of how to provide these students with adequate support. The present study aims to examine the possibility and effectiveness of implementing a CSL curriculum for CSL students, and how well it works with the existing theme-based curriculum. “Dynamic Enrichment Learning Mode” (DELM) was developed and implemented in six kindergartens with 131 CSL learners. This CSL-focused DELM was designed based on the Second Language Acquisition (Krashen, 1982) and CL orthographic (Leong et al., 2011) theories and comprises the following: (1) tailor-made individual (one 30-minute session every fortnight) and group (two 30-minute sessions every week) enrichment learning activities; (2) using both CSL and mainstream theme-based curricula; (3) authentic learning materials (e.g., picture books and specially written children’s songs based on the learning objectives of each unit); (4) diversified learning activities (e.g., interactive language games, matching games, free writing games etc.). CSL students learn together during the enrichment activities, and then return to their ordinary classes to learn with their native Chinese classmates to benefit from both the CSL and theme-based curricula. This enables them to immerse in a safe, comfortable environment with rich target language input while not having to separate from their Chinese counterparts. Quasi-experiments, classroom observations, teacher and parent focus group interviews were conducted in this study. Compared with the control group, the results show that students who adopted the DELM for one year made significant improvements in CSL performance (effect sizes ranging from 1.47 to 1.98), motivation, and self-confidence, as evidenced by their willingness to participate in CL learning activities and use Chinese for communicating with their native Chinese counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


Hong Kong
learning objective
language acquisition


Loh, E. K. Y., Chan, S. P. T., & Kwan, C. Y. (2017, June). Start from the beginning: Dynamic enrichment learning mode (DELM) for kindergarteners who learn Chinese as a second language in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 11th conference of the International Association for Research in L1 Education: Cultures, Arts & Verbal Communication in L1 Education, Tallinn University, Estonia.


  • Young children
  • Chinese as a second language
  • Curriculum design
  • Effective pedagogies