Author: Wolfaardt, Jacobus Francois
Title: The impact of Filipina domestic workers on the language acquisition of bilingual Hong Kong primary school children
Advisors: Kim, Sun-A (CBS)
Ladegaard, Hans (ENGL)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2021
Subject: Language acquisition
Children -- China -- Hong Kong -- Language
Foreign workers, Philippine -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: x, 305 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This thesis investigates the impact of Filipina domestic workers (FilDWs), a marginalised group in Hong Kong, on bilingual Hong Kong children's language development. More specifically, it focuses on FilDWs' influence on the L2 English and L1 Cantonese abilities of bilingual Hong Kong primary school children attending an English Medium of Instruction (EMI) school. The specific elements investigated are the following: L2 English receptive vocabulary, listening comprehension, reading accuracy and fluency, writing accuracy and complexity, spoken complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF), and L1 Cantonese receptive vocabulary and word reading. A total of 85 children aged eight to nine participated in the group test, and 64 of them also took individual tests. Two groups of participants were recruited: thirty-four participants (17 boys and 17 girls, mean age 8;11) from homes with FilDWs and 30 (15 boys and 15 girls, mean age 8;11) from homes with no FilDW. All participating children took receptive vocabulary tests in Cantonese and English, a listening comprehension, reading, writing, and speaking test in English, a Cantonese word reading test, and an aptitude test in the form of an English working memory capacity (WMC) test. With the exception of English writing complexity and length, where no significant differences emerged between the groups, participants from households with FilDWs scored significantly higher on all the English measures, while no significant differences between the two groups were found on either of the Cantonese tests or the WMC test. The results suggest that FilDWs exert a positive impact on the L2 English proficiency, without a trade-off effect on the measured aspects of L1 Cantonese proficiency, of bilingual Hong Kong primary school children from EMI schools.
Unlike previous research examining the impact of FilDWs on Hong Kong children's language proficiency, this thesis makes the critical distinction between types of schools in Hong Kong and drew the entire sample from an EMI population in order to eliminate confounding effects from the differences between types of schools. A further unique contribution of this thesis is that it is the first investigation looking into the impact of FilDWs on Hong Kong children's language proficiency to employ multiple measures in assessing both L1- and L2 proficiency, as well as a WMC test. Prior to this thesis, CAF, an established and widely accepted triad as a measure of oral proficiency, has not been employed in a study examining the role of FilDWs on Hong Kong children's language acquisition. This thesis makes a practical contribution to the local community by informing Hong Kong parents of bilingual children attending EMI schools that they can expect their children's English proficiency to benefit via the employment of a FilDW, without being concerned that the children's L1 Cantonese would suffer as a result of less home interaction in Cantonese. Finally, the findings put FilDWs in a different position assigned to them by society. Instead of being low level migrant workers, they appear to be key role players in advancing the L2 English proficiency of Hong Kong children.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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