The politics of bilingualism: A reproduction analysis of the policy of mother tongue education in Hong Kong after 1997

Pak Sang LAI, Michael BYRAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After the resumption of sovereignty in 1997 mother tongue education in Hong Kong, though it began with the good intention of national reintegration, politically, socially, culturally and educationally, has escalated the tensions and contradictions of the politics of bilingualism in its implementation. The government policy of bi-literacy and trilingualism addresses, rather than resolves, the problems of hegemonic struggle among different social groups in the society, and between the indigenous elite class and national ruling elites at both the local and national level. A reproduction analysis is conducted to examine the events pertinent to the language shift of English as a medium of instruction (EMI) to Chinese as a medium of instruction (CMI), with particular emphasis on controversial issues such as parental choice, antagonism of elite classes, and group politics in the face of the internationalisation of English under globalised developments of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). English, a colonising language in the past and now a world language for changes in ICT, remains problematic for Hong Kong's language policy undergoing decolonisation and internationalisation in its early post-transitional years. Putonghua, the national language of China, challenging Cantonese, the regional dialect, as the formal and high Chinese language of the society, has added complexities to the discourse of polemical mother tongue education under the 'one country, two systems' framework practised in Hong Kong. Copyright © 2003 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-334
JournalCompare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
Volume33
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003

Citation

Lai, P.-S., & Byram, M. (2003). The politics of bilingualism: A reproduction analysis of the policy of mother tongue education in Hong Kong after 1997. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 33(3), 315-334.

Keywords

  • Bilingualism
  • Language policy
  • Hong Kong (China) -- History -- Transfer of Sovereignty from Great Britain, 1997

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