Invited Article
Medium of Instruction in Schools: The Case of Canada and the United States and Its Relevance for Hong Kong

2003.第12卷第2期(Vol. 12 No. 2).pp. 57–90

Medium of Instruction in Schools: The Case of Canada and the United States and Its Relevance for Hong Kong




The research on bilingual and second language (L2) immersion education in both Canada and the United States is reviewed with respect to its relevance to language planning in the Hong Kong context. While caution needs to be exercised in generalizing from one context to another, the following conclusions from the North American research are potentially relevant to the implementation of programs in Hong Kong designed to develop bilingualism and biliteracy:

  1. A variety of bilingual education models can work effectively under appropriate conditions;
  2. Coherent guidelines regarding teacher and student use of L1 and L2 should be in place in order to avoid haphazard and unplanned mixing of both languages in the classroom;
  3. Partial bilingual, content-based second language teaching yields far superior results than teaching the target language just as a school subject;
  4. Teacher-centered, transmission-oriented instruction entails serious limitations as a means of developing proficiency in the target language within immersion or bilingual programs.

It is argued that effective implementation of bilingual education requires a language planning process not just at the level of central government but also at the level of individual schools. This type of language planning process might enable educators to move towards greater innovation to ensure (1) coherence in policies regarding the use of L1 and L2 in the classroom, (2) effective implementation of content-based English teaching in both English- and Chinese-medium schools, and (3) greater opportunities for students to obtain more extensive input in English (e.g., through wider reading in English) and to use English for higher-order cognitively and linguistically challenging academic activities.


此篇文章對美加雙語及第二語言沉浸強化教育的研究作出評論並闡述其對香港語言策劃之意義。 雖然不同的情況不能一概而論,但下列對美加情況的研究卻對香港有頗大的啟示,有助於其發展及推行雙語及雙文化教育:

  1. 在適當的條件下可運用多種有效的雙語教育模式;
  2. 應有一套對全體師生運用第一及第二語言的清晰指引,可令其避免在課堂中胡亂使用混雜語言;
  3. 部分以第二語言教授主科比把目標語言(此指第二語言)只當一門科目教授有更出眾效果;
  4. 在推行沉浸強化或雙語教育時,如以教師主導、單向傳授方式教授,則會嚴重限制學生發展目標語言的能力。

論者認為如要有效的推行雙語教育,不只在中央政府層面,還須在個別學校層面,都有一個語言計劃。 此種語言計劃將令教育工作者以更多之新思維達至以下效果:(1)對課堂中運用第一及第二語言有一致的政策,(2)無論在英文學校或中文學校都須有效地推行主科英語教授,(3)學生應有更多機會更廣泛地接觸英語,以 及在更高層次的認知及具更高語文難度的學習中運用英語。