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Postgraduate Thesis: Teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens: patterns and practices
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TitleTeaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens: patterns and practices
 
AuthorsNg, Mei-lee.
吳美莉.
 
Issue Date2011
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractAs in many parts of Asia, the learning of English is highly valued by parents in Hong Kong as it is regarded as a path to upward social mobility. Children in Hong Kong who speak Chinese as a first language typically begin to learn English when they start kindergarten at age 3. This study investigated the teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens through two interrelated studies. The objective of Study 1 was to examine the patterns of English language teaching in different kindergartens. On the basis of the findings of Study 1, three kindergarten teachers were selected for a multiple case study in Study 2 to gain a deeper understanding of their English teaching practices and their students? engagement in the learning of English. About 38 % (n=256) of the kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-nurseries in Hong Kong were surveyed in Study 1. The results from the survey indicated that (i) the teaching of English to 5-year-olds was widespread and there were many cases of teaching of English to 3-year-olds; (ii) the English instruction time was relatively limited; (iii) English as a specific subject was taught by “specialist” English teachers with varying academic and professional backgrounds; (iv) in schools that allocated relatively less time for English instruction, teachers did not usually have professional qualifications to teach preschool children and/or English; (v) there were varying degrees of collaboration between “specialist” English teachers and local non-English speaking teachers; (vi) a wide variety of teaching materials and pedagogies were deployed; (vii) written homework assignments to improve children’s English were common; and (viii) teachers exerted efforts to create a bilingual (Chinese – English) environment at school. Study 2 was a multiple case study in which three teachers - one with a professional qualification in early childhood education, one with professional qualifications to teach English as a Second Language, and one untrained - were purposefully sampled. Six English lessons of each of the three teachers amounting to a total of 475 minutes of teaching were videotaped. Their teaching practices and the children’s engagement in learning were observed, and the classroom learning environment was assessed. Teachers were interviewed individually, parents completed questionnaires about the home language learning environment, and children’s English proficiency was assessed in individual sessions. Teachers’ pedagogies were found to be related to a host of contextual factors. Teachers’ professional training was associated with the extent to which they implemented a child-centered pedagogy. Part-time English teachers had limited collaboration with local teachers, which in turn affected their teaching preparation and practice. A textbook-led English teaching schedule and the relatively limited instruction time induced a product-oriented pedagogy. Children’s limited English proficiency coupled with the minimal language support at home formed a vicious cycle reinforcing the product-oriented pedagogy, which adversely influenced children’s engagement in learning. This study contributes significant knowledge to the field by illustrating the challenges in teaching English in Hong Kong kindergartens. Implications of the findings for early childhood language policy, teacher training and classroom practices are discussed, and future research directions are suggested.
 
AdvisorsRao, N
 
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
 
SubjectEnglish language - Study and teaching (Elementary) - China - Hong Kong.
 
Dept/ProgramEducation
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.advisorRao, N
 
dc.contributor.authorNg, Mei-lee.
 
dc.contributor.author吳美莉.
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2011
 
dc.date.issued2011
 
dc.description.abstractAs in many parts of Asia, the learning of English is highly valued by parents in Hong Kong as it is regarded as a path to upward social mobility. Children in Hong Kong who speak Chinese as a first language typically begin to learn English when they start kindergarten at age 3. This study investigated the teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens through two interrelated studies. The objective of Study 1 was to examine the patterns of English language teaching in different kindergartens. On the basis of the findings of Study 1, three kindergarten teachers were selected for a multiple case study in Study 2 to gain a deeper understanding of their English teaching practices and their students? engagement in the learning of English. About 38 % (n=256) of the kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-nurseries in Hong Kong were surveyed in Study 1. The results from the survey indicated that (i) the teaching of English to 5-year-olds was widespread and there were many cases of teaching of English to 3-year-olds; (ii) the English instruction time was relatively limited; (iii) English as a specific subject was taught by “specialist” English teachers with varying academic and professional backgrounds; (iv) in schools that allocated relatively less time for English instruction, teachers did not usually have professional qualifications to teach preschool children and/or English; (v) there were varying degrees of collaboration between “specialist” English teachers and local non-English speaking teachers; (vi) a wide variety of teaching materials and pedagogies were deployed; (vii) written homework assignments to improve children’s English were common; and (viii) teachers exerted efforts to create a bilingual (Chinese – English) environment at school. Study 2 was a multiple case study in which three teachers - one with a professional qualification in early childhood education, one with professional qualifications to teach English as a Second Language, and one untrained - were purposefully sampled. Six English lessons of each of the three teachers amounting to a total of 475 minutes of teaching were videotaped. Their teaching practices and the children’s engagement in learning were observed, and the classroom learning environment was assessed. Teachers were interviewed individually, parents completed questionnaires about the home language learning environment, and children’s English proficiency was assessed in individual sessions. Teachers’ pedagogies were found to be related to a host of contextual factors. Teachers’ professional training was associated with the extent to which they implemented a child-centered pedagogy. Part-time English teachers had limited collaboration with local teachers, which in turn affected their teaching preparation and practice. A textbook-led English teaching schedule and the relatively limited instruction time induced a product-oriented pedagogy. Children’s limited English proficiency coupled with the minimal language support at home formed a vicious cycle reinforcing the product-oriented pedagogy, which adversely influenced children’s engagement in learning. This study contributes significant knowledge to the field by illustrating the challenges in teaching English in Hong Kong kindergartens. Implications of the findings for early childhood language policy, teacher training and classroom practices are discussed, and future research directions are suggested.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation
 
dc.description.thesisleveldoctoral
 
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4723138
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47231385
 
dc.subject.lcshEnglish language - Study and teaching (Elementary) - China - Hong Kong.
 
dc.titleTeaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens: patterns and practices
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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<item><contributor.advisor>Rao, N</contributor.advisor>
<contributor.author>Ng, Mei-lee.</contributor.author>
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<date.issued>2011</date.issued>
<description.abstract>&#65279;As in many parts of Asia, the learning of English is highly valued by parents in

Hong Kong as it is regarded as a path to upward social mobility. Children in Hong

Kong who speak Chinese as a first language typically begin to learn English when

they start kindergarten at age 3. This study investigated the teaching and learning

of English in Hong Kong kindergartens through two interrelated studies. The

objective of Study 1 was to examine the patterns of English language teaching in

different kindergartens. On the basis of the findings of Study 1, three kindergarten

teachers were selected for a multiple case study in Study 2 to gain a deeper

understanding of their English teaching practices and their students? engagement in

the learning of English.

About 38 % (n=256) of the kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-nurseries in

Hong Kong were surveyed in Study 1. The results from the survey indicated that (i)

the teaching of English to 5-year-olds was widespread and there were many cases of

teaching of English to 3-year-olds; (ii) the English instruction time was relatively

limited; (iii) English as a specific subject was taught by &#8220;specialist&#8221; English teachers

with varying academic and professional backgrounds; (iv) in schools that allocated

relatively less time for English instruction, teachers did not usually have professional

qualifications to teach preschool children and/or English; (v) there were varying degrees of collaboration between &#8220;specialist&#8221; English teachers and local non-English

speaking teachers; (vi) a wide variety of teaching materials and pedagogies were

deployed; (vii) written homework assignments to improve children&#8217;s English were

common; and (viii) teachers exerted efforts to create a bilingual (Chinese &#8211; English)

environment at school.

Study 2 was a multiple case study in which three teachers - one with a

professional qualification in early childhood education, one with professional

qualifications to teach English as a Second Language, and one untrained - were

purposefully sampled. Six English lessons of each of the three teachers amounting

to a total of 475 minutes of teaching were videotaped. Their teaching practices and

the children&#8217;s engagement in learning were observed, and the classroom learning

environment was assessed. Teachers were interviewed individually, parents

completed questionnaires about the home language learning environment, and

children&#8217;s English proficiency was assessed in individual sessions.

Teachers&#8217; pedagogies were found to be related to a host of contextual factors.

Teachers&#8217; professional training was associated with the extent to which they

implemented a child-centered pedagogy. Part-time English teachers had limited

collaboration with local teachers, which in turn affected their teaching preparation

and practice. A textbook-led English teaching schedule and the relatively limited

instruction time induced a product-oriented pedagogy. Children&#8217;s limited English

proficiency coupled with the minimal language support at home formed a vicious

cycle reinforcing the product-oriented pedagogy, which adversely influenced

children&#8217;s engagement in learning.

This study contributes significant knowledge to the field by illustrating the

challenges in teaching English in Hong Kong kindergartens. Implications of the findings for early childhood language policy, teacher training and classroom

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<subject.lcsh>English language - Study and teaching (Elementary) - China - Hong Kong.</subject.lcsh>
<title>Teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong kindergartens: patterns and practices</title>
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