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hk01 | School closures mean a loss of Chinese language environment for ethnic minority students

This is an English Language summary of the original article written by 曾雪雯.


EDB states: ‘suspending classes does not mean suspending learning’. However, learning Chinese online is very difficult for ethnic minority students, and their Chinese language skills are deteriorating.


School closures mean a loss of Chinese language environment for ethnic minority students and their Chinese levels are suffering. Parents hope the government will provide extra tuition for ethnic minority students.

All Hong Kong schools have been closed since Chinese New Year due to the coronavirus epidemic. EDB stated that ‘suspending classes does not mean suspending learning’ and many schools have provided online study materials. However, learning Chinese online is very difficult for ethnic minority students, and their Chinese language skills are deteriorating.

“Hk01’ visited an ethnic minority family to find out more. The elder daughter, Sabi, attended a mainstream Chinese school and can read Chinese, so she has to be the family teacher coaching her younger brother and sister.

Sabi is twenty years old and studies at a Hong Kong university. Since the schools closed, she has been tutoring her seven-year-old brother Hani in Chinese. She notes that his primary school online course consists only of worksheets, online texts and audio. Her online university course, by contrast, shows the teacher giving lectures ‘face to face’ with the students.

Sabi says her brother has already forgotten many Chinese characters. On a reading worksheet, he could hardly read or understand any of the characters .

Sabi points out her family don’t usually speak Cantonese at home. After classes were suspended, the lack of a Cantonese environment made the study of Chinese more difficult. The playgrounds on their estate have also been closed, so Hani has even less chance to play and chat with local children. “Previously, he would go down and talk Chinese with the other children”, she says.

Hani’s mother Alaya is worried the epidemic will influence her son’s Chinese learning. She would like to get a private tutor but tutors are not willing to come to the flat because of the virus.

Alaya hopes the government will provide extra teaching support for ethnic minority children, for example by providing one class per week of extra tuition, with the possibility of interactive online study. “The children really need a teacher”, she says.


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