What do Hong Kong preschoolers say about the English immersion expereince?

Mei Lee NG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


With the influence of globalization and internationalization, the age of learning English as a foreign language has been pushed down to the preschool level. Most Hong Kong preschoolers are exposed to some sort of English learning at school as early as three years old. Parents’ traditional belief on effort and hard work often indirectly endorses a rather formal learning that stresses practice and drilling of language forms and structures. Research documenting children’s learning experience of this sort is scarce to date. This paper reports a group of five-year-old Cantonese-speaking preschoolers’ experience in an immersion project which tried out an alternative pedagogy from the traditional approach. Local Cantonese preschoolers were paired with children of their partnering international kindergartens to have English activities together. The first part of the project was a few initial visits between partnering children to establish friendship. Following that was a week’s program of English creative activities and play in which local children were mixed with children from international schools. Informal activities like games, song singing, story book sharing were designed to enhance young learner’s interests and motivation to speak English in an authentic interaction context. Instead of measuring children’s language proficiency gains before and after the project, this project focused on hearing children’s voices about the English immersion experience. Participating Cantonese-speaking children were interviewed in groups. Their views of learning English before and after the project were collected. The interviews were videotaped and then transcribed for analysis. Among the positive and negative comments, several extreme negative cases emerged. A closer examination of these voices revealed striking messages that demand the attention of the teacher and parents when planning early English exposure for young children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Ng, M. L. (2008, June). What do Hong Kong preschoolers say about the English immersion expereince? Paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness, the University of Hong Kong, China.


  • Early Childhood Education
  • Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning


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