Author: Lau, Man Choi
Title: Change and continuity of Mandarin education in Hong Kong : a sociohistorical study of the early period (1930s to 1980s)
Advisors: Li, David C. S. (CBS)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2023
Subject: Mandarin dialects -- Study and teaching -- China -- Hong Kong
Chinese language -- Study and teaching -- China -- Hong Kong
Education -- China -- Hong Kong -- History -- 20th century
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: 314 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Mandarin education in Hong Kong started from the post-war period during the colonial regime and gradually became part of a language policy in the form of biliteracy and trilingualism (兩文三語) shortly before the return of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to homeland China. Previous studies covered the developmental periods of Mandarin and then Putonghua education from 1940s to 2007 but not much has been said about the early period. Coincided with the 2010 fine-tuning of the language instruction in secondary schools, Putonghua education in Hong Kong reached its peak and then faced a downward trend. Most people finish their duty of learning Putonghua after secondary three and only use it when needed, and there is little affection associated with the language. This study aims at presenting a fuller picture of Mandarin education in the early period – 1930s to 1980s – by identifying the learners, teachers and teaching materials through systematic searches on computer-mediated electronic databases of old newspapers like the South China Morning Post and Wah Kiu Yat Po (Overseas Chinese Daily News), magazines, and memoirs, and also personal collections of artifacts and memorabilia that have potential for shedding light on the state and spread of Mandarin education during the early period.
It is apparent that as time passes, the learners, teachers and teaching materials have all undergone significant shifts. The learners shifted from mostly adults to mostly young students; teachers from mostly from Mainland to mostly homegrown. As for the teaching materials, while there is always emphasis on pronunciation, other contents have become more and more diversified and profession oriented. Hence the framework of analysis is twofold: for learners and teachers, their experience and attitudes are the major concerns, and for the teaching materials, content analysis will be conducted. Data for the former was collected systematically and the documentation thus compiled was interpreted in accordance with the societal changes and other sociopolitical factors. The content analysis of the early teaching materials looks at the format and style of each unit, with reference to the methodologies established in the latter years.
This study found the Mandarin promotion work done by Irene Cheng (HE Ailing) in the late 1930s, identified three Putonghua teachers, Qiao Yannong, Liu Qiusheng and Liu Ming, from the 1940s to 1980s and discussed their contributions. From the coursebook analysis, the teaching of Pinyin and the text for learning is discussed with reference to the strengths of the early Putonghua coursebooks; with implications for contemporary Putonghua curriculum examined. The ups and downs of Mandarin education throughout the decades were closely associated with the societal changes of Hong Kong. In light of the findings in this study, an alternative periodization of the development of Mandarin education is proposed, namely the autonomous period (pre-war years to 1974), the gradual transition period (1974 – 2012), and the stalemate period (2012 – present).
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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