Hong Kong SAR

Tse Shek Kam
The University of Hong Kong

Language and Literacy

The Cantonese dialect of Chinese is the everyday mother tongue of the overwhelming majority of residents in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. English and Chinese have equal status as official languages of state, even though only 1.4 percent of the population uses English as their everyday lingua franca. Cantonese is the daily language used by 88.1 percent of the population; Putonghua, also known as Mandarin and the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China, is the first language of 3.9 percent of the population; and other dialects of Chinese are regularly used by 3.7 percent of Hong Kong citizens.1 Chinese has been the official medium of instruction (MOI) in most secondary schools since 1998 and is the preferred language of instruction in all government funded primary schools.2 Pursuant to the Fine-Tuning the Medium of Instruction for Secondary Schools policy issued in 2009, all schools are required to formulate their own MOI plans in accordance with the MOI framework. The incidence of schools using Chinese as the MOI was stepped up at the Secondary 1 level in the 2010–2011 school year, and is expected to progress year by year to higher forms in secondary schools.3 Schools are required to formulate their own MOI arrangements, taking into account their local situation and environment.4