Language policies for Hong Kong schools since 1997

Vincent Kan, Bob Adamson

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Language in education debates in Hong Kong focus on the role and status of English (as the former colonial language and an important means for international communication); Cantonese, the mother tongue of the majority of the population; and Putonghua, the national language of China. This paper examines the language policy formulated in 1997-1998, and finds that it radically departed from previous policies by mandating the use of Cantonese as the medium of instruction in secondary schools. The paper then analyses two subsequent policy revisions and concludes that, while the tonal emphasis on mother-tongue education has remained, the policy revisions have reversed the language policy to previous practices that emphasised the importance of English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalLondon Review of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cantonese
  • English
  • Language
  • Policy
  • Putonghua
  • Trilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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