Medium-of-instruction debate I : mother tongue education and the Dual MoI streaming policy (1998-)

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic research


In this chapter, we will examine the divergent social forces and competing ideological premises embodied in a few policy documents, notably the Llewellyn Report (Llewellyn SJ, Hancock G, Kirst M, Roeloffs KA, Perspective on education in Hong Kong: Report by a visiting panel. Government Printer, Hong Kong. Retrieved 28 May 2015, from, 1982) and the Education Commission Report No. 4 (ECR4, The curriculum and behavioural problems in schools. Government Printer, Hong Kong. Retrieved 27 May 2015, from, 1990), the latter being instrumental in paving the way for the implementation of the dual MoI streaming policy from September 1998, whereby primary-school leavers (around age 12) are allocated to Chinese-medium or English-medium secondary schools. Drawing on a number of critical studies in the literature, we will give a critical appraisal of the educational merits of the streaming proposal in ECR4 by scrutinizing its questionable ideological premises. It will be argued that, as a justification of the streaming proposal, the scapegoating and stigmatization of ‘mixed code’ is ill-advised and unfounded. The monolingual classroom language ideology is outdated. To enhance the quality of classroom teaching and learning, there is a need for more rigorous classroom-based research on pedagogically sound and productive translanguaging practices, with a view to facilitating the effective teaching and learning of content subjects. A promising way forward is to investigate how and under what circumstances students’ L1 may be turned strategically into a useful pedagogical resource in the hands of properly trained plurilingual teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultilingual Hong Kong : languages, literacies and identities
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9783319441955
ISBN (Print)9783319441931
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMultilingual Education
ISSN (Print)2213-3208


  • Medium of instruction
  • English-medium education
  • Chinese-medium education
  • Mother tongue education
  • Dual MoI streaming policy
  • Cantonese-English mixed code
  • Code-switching
  • Code-mixing
  • Translanguaging
  • Bilingual instruction

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