The (un)changing role of Mandarin Chinese in language education in Hong Kong

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Book Chapter

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With the impending change of status of Hong Kong from a British colony to an integral partof the People's Republic of China (PRC)on 1 July 1997,the future role of Putonghua (Mandarin), which is the national language of the PRC, has been widely debated. In particular,teachers,educationalists and policy-makers are interested to know what will happen within the education system in Hong Kong. Since an overwhelming majority of the population are Southern Chinese in origin, Cantonese is used as a lingua franca in society and as a major medium of instruction at primary level and in the secondary schools which promote mother-tongue teaching. With the expansion of higher education, the use of Cantonese in lectures and seminars in universities is now becoming common. This paper reports on the status and use of the two Chinese varieties, i.e. Cantonese and Putonghua in education in Hong Kong, analyses the increasing economic links and social interaction between Hong Kong and the PRC, and discusses various proposals concerning the (un)changing role of Mandarin in the post-1997 education context.

Source Publication

One Country, Two Systems, Three Languages: A Survey of Changing Language Use in Hong Kong



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