Hong Kong moves to increase teaching in Mandarin, decrease teaching in Cantonese

The Hong Kong government’s Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (“Scolar” — heh) yesterday launched a HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) campaign to help schools use Mandarin as the medium for instruction.

Half of the money will be used to hire extra teachers, with the other half used to bring in mainland teaching experts.

To qualify for this funding, schools must demonstrate competence in teaching “Chinese” in Mandarin and be ready to switch 40 percent of “Chinese language teaching” from Cantonese to Mandarin within three years. The scheme is expected to start at the beginning of the next academic year and last for more than three years.

Each year about 30 primary and 10 secondary schools will be added to the program.

Scolar Chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun said that his committee “has agreed that Putonghua [i.e., Mandarin] should be used as a medium of instruction for Chinese language subjects in the long term.”

This does not bode well for the future of Cantonese.


2 thoughts on “Hong Kong moves to increase teaching in Mandarin, decrease teaching in Cantonese

  1. Is this the death blow for Yue? Between this and the preposed merger between Shenzhen and Hong Kong (a name you can soon kiss goodbye), I don’t want to think what will happen to this beautiful language and its people.

  2. Let’s not get overly dramatic here. People outside the classroom are still going to converse in Cantonese. TV shows, pop songs are still canto-dominated.

    The British ruled Hong Kong for 156 years and the level of English in the city is nowhere near the level you’d expect from a former British colony. Unless martial law is declared and Cantonese is officially banned, I don’t think Mandarinization is ever going to be a big hit. Even in Guangzhou the language is more alive than ever. What Jiang Jieshi did in Taiwan is going to be very difficult to repeat in Hong Kong – it’s a major financial nerve center and coercing people to speak Mandarin and forgetting Canto isn’t going to work.

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