Comparisons across the three case study schools regarding trilingual education

Here we compare stakeholder views in the three case study schools regarding trilingual education. The stakeholders are the school principals, teachers, students, and parents.

Students’ acceptance of the trilingual education model

Generally speaking, students in the case-study schools reported positively on how trilingual education was being implemented (see Figure 12.1), but there were differences across the schools. Students from School A reported enjoying trilingual education the most as they gave this item the highest mean score of 3.99 (the average mean score across the three schools being 3.73). The non-Chinese speaking students of School A showed their willingness to learn more languages, especially Cantonese, as they wanted to communicate with local people. A P6 student from Africa said, ‘I like learning the three languages because it will be more convenient for me to order food in a restaurant either in Cantonese or in Putonghua’. A P4 Filipino said, ‘If I learn Cantonese, I can help my mom to translate when buying things in the market’. Another Filipino student remarked, ‘In the past, I could not understand even one word in Cantonese, but now I am happy that I can understand more and more words in Cantonese’. Students from School В were also positive about the trilingual education model implemented in the school even though only one lesson per week was assigned to the Putonghua subject and the Chinese Language subject was taught solely in Cantonese. However, the students still

Students’ acceptance of the trilingual education model in the researched schools, in per cent

Figure 12.1 Students’ acceptance of the trilingual education model in the researched schools, in per cent.

enjoyed the current model as they gave item 3 a mean score of 3.89, which is above the average mean score of 3.73. One student said, ‘We enjoy as we have foreigners and Mainlanders in school, when communicating we will teach them how to speak in Cantonese and Putonghua or vice versa. So we are used to learning the three languages in this way’.

In contrast, the P5—P6 interviewees of School C gave item 3 a mean score of only 3.52, which is below the average mean score of 3.73. This is perhaps not surprising as all these students are locals whose first language was Cantonese. As one student noted, ‘I preferred using Cantonese in the study of the Chinese Language subject. If Putonghua was used, some classmates would find the lesson boring and became inattentive or fell asleep. Some even failed to answer the teacher’s questions, affecting their academic results and thus their learning attitude became worse. This year the situation is improved as Cantonese is used’. In summary, students in School A (a mixture of many nationalities) were the most positive about the trilingual education model adopted in their school. Students in School C (100% local Hongkongers) were the least positive about the trilingual education model adopted in their school. Students in School В (67% local Hongkongers, the rest from other ethnic and linguistic backgrounds) hold a view in-between.

Parents’ attitudes towards the trilingual education model

The trilingual education model implemented in the three schools was seldom the most salient factor in persuading parents which school to choose for their children, as only seven (22.6%) said that they took the trilingual education model in school into their consideration. In fact, parents gave priority to the closeness of the school, the school motto, the school ethos, etc. Parents from the Mainland were supportive of their children studying in Cantonese as they realized Cantonese is the mother tongue of local people in Hong Kong. This endorses Bacon-Shone and Bolton’s (2008, p. 27) suggestion that immigrants and their children from the different dialect areas of Guangdong and Fujian provinces quickly adapted their speech to meet the norms of urban metropolitan Cantonese in Hong Kong. None of the parents disapproved of the teaching of Putonghua as a subject, but nine (29.0%) disapproved of using Putonghua as Medium of Instruction (PMI) in teaching the Chinese Language subject.

When considering if English should be used in teaching other subjects in the school, 27 parents (87.1%) suggested that Computing, Mathematics, and the science topics in General Studies could be taught in English so that their children could adapt well to EMI secondary schools that they all wanted to send their children to. These parents are thus no different from the majority of parents in Hong Kong who favour EMI schools (Kan, Lai, Kirkpatrick, & Law, 2011). As noted above, a major reason for this desire for an EMI secondary' school is that six of the eight government-funded universities are all English-medium, as are all of the private universities (Kirkpatrick, 2014). Parents from School A and School В were confident that their children’s English language proficiency would be acceptable when they graduate as the schools provided students with an English language environment, partly to cater for the needs of non-Chinese speaking students in the schools. Parents’ views differ on whether children should learn other languages together with their mother tongue in the early years in schooling. The great majority, 80.0%, agreed that children should learn the three languages at the same time in the early years in schooling. They believed that small children can learn languages easily, especially able students. Those who did not agree worried that learning three languages at the same time would cause chaos and they believed that children learn better in their mother tongue and this should be taught first.

 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >