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Selected Development Project
Project Title

Trilingual education in Hong Kong primary schools: English, Cantonese and Putonghua as Medium of Instruction in different subjects and implications for language learning


Principal Investigator Dr Wang, Lixun
Area of Research Project
Language, Literature and Linguistics
Project Period
From 01/2014 To 06/2016
  • To find out what the models of trilingual education are in Hong Kong primary schools.
  • To investigate the schools’ language policies in different subjects (e.g., one-language-at-a-time, or code-switching and co-languaging allowed (if so, to what extent)), and rationale behind these policies.
  • To examine which models are more effective in fostering trilingualism.
  • To recommend a trilingual education model that is likely to be generally effective in Hong Kong primary schools.
Methods Used
  • Questionnaire surveys
  • Interviews
  • Ethnographic case study
  • Classroom discourse data analysis
  • Narrative inquiry (teaching reflections)
Summary of Findings
  • The identification and recommendation of an effective model of trilingual education for all Hong Kong primary schools;
  • The features of different trilingual education models adopted by different schools;
  • The students’, teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of the trilingual education models in the schools;
  • Analysis of a corpus/database of transcribed lessons which will help us gain a clear understanding of what have actually happened in the classrooms regarding trilingual education; and
  • Teaching reflection written by teachers which will reveal the language strategies adopted by the teacher and students, and the actual interaction that occurred in the lessons.
  • The results of the project may lead to a better understanding of how trilingual education is implemented in Hong Kong primary schools, which would be relevant to the successful implementation of the ‘biliterate and trilingual’ language policy proposed by the Hong Kong government, and to effective language education in Hong Kong in general.
  • It is of value to local primary schools that are currently trying out or intend to try out their own trilingual education models, as they will be better informed when re-designing the school curriculum.
  • The results would also have a long-term impact on language education policies in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world.
A number of articles will be drafted for publication:
  • Identifying an Effective Trilingual Education Model for Hong Kong Primary Schools’, to be submitted to the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
  • ‘Teachers’ perceptions and reflections on trilingual education in Hong Kong Primary Schools’, to be submitted to the Journal of Multilingual Education
  • ‘Linguistic analysis of transcribed lessons: the reality of trilingual education implementation in Hong Kong Primary Schools’, to be submitted to Bilingual Research Journal.
Biography of Principal Investigator

Dr Wang Lixun is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics in the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), and his research interests include corpus linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, English academic writing, multilingual education, blended learning and outcome-based learning. One of his main research areas is English-Chinese parallel corpus studies, and he has compiled a 2-million-word English-Chinese parallel corpus, which is freely available and searchable online using a self-developed 'English-Chinese Parallel Concordancer' program (http://ec-concord.ied.edu.hk). He is the author of Introduction to Language Studies (2011) and co-author of Academic Writing in Language and Education Programmes (2011). He has also published in reputable journals such as System, Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Language Learning and Technology, and International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, on topics such as Computer-Assisted Language Learning, Corpus Linguistics, Outcome-based Learning, the Use of Multimedia in the Teaching of Linguistics, and Trilingual Education in Hong Kong. He has published a translated novel and a number of translated journal articles. He won Best Paper Award twice at two international conferences. In 2011 he won the Scholarship of Teaching Award at the HKIEd. In 2014 he won the President's Award for Outstanding Performance in Teaching at the HKIEd. From 2005 to 2012, he served as a committee member for the Hong Kong Association for Applied Linguistics.

Funding Source

General Research Fund