European Journal of Language Policy

A planning error revealed

Mother Tongue education (1998–2010) in Hong Kong

European Journal of Language Policy (2016), 8, (2), 153–172.

Abstract

This paper evaluates the exceptionally forceful “mother-tongue” (MT) education policy in force in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2010, where instruction, print materials and assessments were required to be done in students’ first language, Chinese. Apart from relevant literature, a number of sources are searched, including the quantitative data obtained from the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), qualitative data of surveys, and the official documents commissioned by the Education Bureau (EDB) within the period. While MT education has arguably minimized mixed-code teaching in content subjects, there is clear evidence that it failed to raise L2 standard through specialized teaching as promised. Much more students off the top tier being denied for admission to university, the principle of equality of educational participation is violated. A postmortem analysis, drawing on the more recent findings from the field of applied linguistics, shows that the adoption of bifurcation medium of instruction model and the ineffective L2 exposure are the culprits. All this, together with the lack of monitoring of the policy in its initial stage, are speculated as the major causes of its failure.

Cet article évalue la politique d’éducation en vigueur à Hong Kong 1998–2010 proposant une promotion de «langue maternelle» exceptionnellement rigoureuse (MT). Selon cette politique, l’instruction, les matériaux imprimés et les évaluations devaient nécessairement se passer dans la première langue des élèves, c’est-à-dire en chinois. En dehors de la documentation pertinente, un certain nombre de sources sont examinées, y compris les données quantitatives obtenues chez l’autorité d’examen et d’évaluation de Hong Kong (HKEAA), les données qualitatives d’enquêtes, ainsi que les documents officiels commandés par le Bureau de l’éducation (EDB) pendant cette période. Alors que l’éducation MT a sans doute minimisé enseignement de code mixte dans les classes des sujets de contenu, il est évident qu’il n’a pas réussi à relever le niveau L2 par moyen d’un enseignement spécialisé, comme promis. Beaucoup plus d’étudiants de la tranche supérieure se voient refuser l’admission à l’université, et le principe de l’égalité de participation à l’éducation est donc violé. Une analyse post-mortem, adaptée des recherches les plus récentes du domaine de la linguistique appliquée, met en question l’adoption d’un modèle d’instruction basé sur la bifurcation ainsi que la présentation inefficace de la L2. On peut postuler que tout cela, combiné avec le manque de suivi de la politique dans sa phase initiale, fournit l’explication principale de l’échec de cette politique.

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Chu, Edward Y.W.