Understanding parental strategies in supporting children's second language learning from the perspectives of bourdieu's concept of capital: A study of Hong Kong Chinese parents

Yuk Yin KWOK

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


There have been many studies concerning learning English as a second language in Hong Kong, but a relatively neglected topic is how parents’ resources have an impact on their children’s English learning. This study conceptualised parents’ resources as different types of capital, namely economic capital, cultural capital and social capital, in accordance with Pierre Bourdieu’s Concept of Capital (1986). From both a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews, the study collected data on the parents’ perspectives to investigate how parental capital affects parents’ choices of English learning strategies for their children. The results revealed a positive correlation between parents’ cultural capital, economic capital and a few popular parental English learning strategies, while among the three types of capital, parents’ social capital exerts the least influence on their choices of the strategies. In addition, it is found that when parents have more cultural capital, they can enjoy higher flexibility in the choices of English learning strategies. Although people in the community have already realised the inequalities caused by the variation in resources available to parents, they mainly focus on providing physical materials and financial assistances to the low-income families. However, based on the findings of the present study, it may not be a good solution to the problem in the long-run. Instead, the school personnel, charity organisations, and the policy makers should consider not only compensating parents’ disadvantages in their economic capital, but also enriching their cultural capital, as well as social capital. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Hong Kong
cultural capital
learning strategy
social capital
low income


  • English language - Study and teaching - Chinese speakers
  • Second language acquisition
  • Bilingualism in children - Parent participation
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015