Values of Chinese culture in language education: The view of Hong Kong language teachers

Year: 2012

Author: Leung, Wai Ha

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


How a language teacher views the aims and objectives of the language subject he/she is teaching has direct effect on the curriculum design and pedagogies.  Chinese as a mother tongue language subject in Hong Kong has always been assigned the mission of developing students' cultural identity and the love of their heritage culture in addition to the development of linguistic proficiency.  Some researchers have viewed China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) as being heavily influenced by Confucian tradition (Tsui, 2005), and these regions have been referred to as Confucian-heritage cultures (Biggs, 1996).  However, some others found Hong Kong an international city whose heritage lies in both Chinese traditions of education and the British ideas and patterns introduced by the colonial administration and missionary efforts (Hayhoe, 2002).  In this context, this paper will report the view of Hong Kong Chinese language teachers on Chinese cultural values.  Questionnaire survey was administrated to Chinese language teachers to explore how much they identified themselves with Chinese culture, and their views on core values of Chinese culture.

Result of the questionnaire survey showing that about one-third of the subjects preferred having other languages as their mother-tongue, finding other language and culture (e.g. English) more fascinating and privileged than Chinese.  This phenomenon may reflect the strong influence of both the previous colonial and the current post-colonial language policy which are more in favour of the promotion of English (Sweeting & Vickers, 2007).   This trend of having English as a privileged language may have impact on people's cultural identification, and thus the effectiveness of achieving the mission of the Chinese language subject in developing students' cultural identity and love of their heritage culture.  Another feature of the questionnaire result is teachers seemed do not have concrete idea on core values of Chinese culture.  The three words most teachers found representing Chinese culture are: broad, profound, and ancient.  Though these words well described nature of Chinese culture, concrete values of the culture as represented by Confucianism like humaneness, righteousness and considerateness (Chang, 1957; Fen, 1999; Tu, 1998) were not mentioned.  Although almost all of the teachers agreed cultural elements should be included in the subject Chinese language, teachers may need more support in developing their own cultural insight in order to achieve the aims and objectives of the subject in the post-colonial era.