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Book ChapterDOI

Resistance and Creativity in English Reading Lessons in Hong Kong

01 Jun 2001-pp 113-130

About: The article was published on 2001-06-01 and is currently open access. It has received 9 citation(s) till now. The article focuses on the topic(s): Reading (process).
Topics: Reading (process) (56%)

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1
Resistance and Creativity in English Reading Lessons in Hong Kong
Angel Mei Yi Lin
(In Language, Culture and Curriculum, vol.12, issue 3, pp. 285-296.)
Abstract
In this paper, I present a fine-grained analysis of a videotaped lesson segment of a Form 2
(Grade 8) English reading lesson in a school located in a working class residential area in
Hong Kong. The excerpt was taken from a larger corpus of similar lesson data videotaped
in the class over three consecutive weeks. The analysis shows how these
limited-English-speaking Cantonese school children subverted an English reading lesson
that had a focus on practising skills of factual information extraction from texts and
negotiated their own preferred comic-style narratives by artfully making use of the
response slots of the IRF (Initiation-Response-Feedback) discourse format used in the
lesson. The analysis shows the students' playful and artful verbal practices despite the
alienating school reading curriculum which seems to serve to produce an uncritical labour.
The implications for teaching are discussed.

2
Crayon Shin-Chan said to his classmate angrily, "Let's have a duel!"
His classmate replied fiercely, "Okay!"
"They are going to fight again! Let's call the teacher!" Another classmate said
anxiously and speeded away.
When the teacher came, the two boys were tickling each other with their fingers,
each trying hard not to laugh.
"They are using the `mutual tickling' method to see who's stronger; the one who
first laughs loses!" A bystanding classmate explained to the amused teacher.
(Conversations taken and translated from the Crayon Shin-Chan comics series,
"Taking flight", Vol. 9, p. 110.)
1 Sociopolitical Background: Language and Power in Hong Kong
Hong Kong was a British colony situated on the southern coast of China. Since its cession
from China to Great Britain in 1842 as a result of China's defeat in the Opium War, it had
changed from an agrarian fishing port to a labour-intensive industrial city in the 1960s and
70s. In the 1980s and 90s, with the boom of China trade following "the open door" policy
of China, Hong Kong had gradually changed from a light-industry based, manufacturing
economy to an economy primarily based on the re-export of products processed in China,
and business and financial servicing for China (Ho, 1994). It also has an increasing
demand for a low-level white-collar workforce with some functional skills in English (e.g.,
shipping, export/import, accounts clerks; receptionists; telephone operators; typists;
secretaries). While the universities are producing the bilingual middle-management
workforce, the majority of secondary schools are producing the non-management white
collar labour for the day-to-day routine work that requires some English.

3
Despite its international cosmopolitan appearance Hong Kong is ethnically rather
homogeneous. About 98% of its population is ethnic Chinese, and Cantonese
1
is the
mother tongue of the majority. English native speakers account for not more than 2% of
the entire population. They had constituted the dominant class, at least until July 1997
when the sovereignty of the colony was returned to China and Hong Kong became a
Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
Notwithstanding its being the mother tongue of only a minority, English has been both the
language of power and the language of educational and socioeconomic advancement, i.e.,
the dominant symbolic resource in the symbolic market (Bourdieu 1982/1991) in Hong
Kong. Even after Hong Kong became an SAR of China English has maintained its status
as a primary language of higher education and business, partly due to its global domination
as a major language of science, technology and business. For instance, it is still the
1
. Cantonese is a regional Chinese language widely spoken in the southern Chinese
province of Guangdong. Phonologically it is quite distinct from Modern Standard
Chinese (the national standard language of China, known as "Mandarin" or
"Putonghua"); however, there are both overlaps and differences in the grammar and
lexis of the two codes. While linguists and educationists differentiate between
Cantonese and Modern Standard Chinese as two distinct codes, Hong Kong
Chinese people in their daily life often refer to their own language as "jung-man",
meaning "Chinese language". It is usually the linguist who sees Hong Kong
Chinese as in fact speaking Cantonese as their mother tongue and reading and
writing a form of Modern Standard Chinese that has been influenced by Cantonese
lexis and syntax. Hong Kong Chinese themselves however usually do not pay
attention to these distinctions in their daily language practices. They know that the
written style is and should be different from the spoken style of their language, but
they consider themselves using "jung-man" all the same. They can distinguish
spoken Mandarin or Putonghua from Cantonese but they see them as different
regional ways of speaking "jung-man" and generally do not see them as
constituting totally different languages. Ethnically and culturally they regard
themselves as Chinese and "jung-man" as their familiar native language in contrast
to English, which they do not ordinarily speak among themselves and which they
largely see as a language of the "gwai-lou" (a Cantonese slang word referring to
Westerners) or the middle- class yuppies, who tend to code-mix or code-switch
between Cantonese and English.

4
medium of instruction of most universities and an important language requirement of most
white-collar, professional, executive and civil service jobs. While Putonghua (Mandarin
Chinese, the standard national language of China) is rising in its political importance, it
seems unlikely that it will take over the socioeconomic and higher education functions of
English in the near future.
The symbolic market is embodied and enacted in the many key situations (e.g., educational
settings, job settings) in which symbolic resources (e.g., certain types of linguistic skills,
cultural knowledge, specialized knowledge and skills, etc.) are demanded of social actors if
they want to gain access to valuable social, educational and eventually material resources
(ibid.). For instance, a Hong Kong student must have adequate English resources, in
addition to subject matter knowledge and skills, to enter and succeed in the
English-medium professional training programmes of medicine, architecture, legal studies,
etc. in order to earn the English-accredited credentials to enter these high-income
professions. The symbolic market is therefore not a metaphor, but one with transactions
that have material, socioeconomic consequences for people.
2 The Schooling and Examination Systems: Institutions of Social Selection
The schooling system can be said to be largely subsumed under the public examination
system, a major institution of social selection (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977) in Hong Kong.
The secondary school curriculum is, for instance, in reality, if not in name, heavily
influenced by the public examination syllabuses. Public examinations are important
because the job market uses public exam results as an important screening criterion on job
applicants. A student's higher and professional education opportunities are also dependent
on her/his public examination results. Schools in turn depend on its graduates' public
examination results to acquire prestige and status among parents and in the community.
Teachers are therefore under school administrators' constant pressure and monitoring to

5
produce good public examination results in the students. It is not difficult for a
success-oriented student to discover that public exam-taking skills constitute the most
important factor for success in school and in the society (at least initially) and that the rule
of the game does not hinge on gaining "education" or "learning" but exam-taking skills
2
.
3 The Larger Study: Uncovering Institutions of Social Reproduction
The data and analysis reported in this chapter have been taken from a larger study (Lin
1996a) which examined how English lessons were organized in junior forms (Form 1-3;
comparable to Grade 7-9 in North America) in secondary schools in Hong Kong. The
purpose of the study was to find out whether schools situated in different socioeconomic
contexts provide their Cantonese-speaking students with differential access to the
socioeconomically dominant English linguistic and cultural resources in Hong Kong, and
thus serve as institutions of social reproduction (e.g., perpetuating/reproducing the lack of
linguistic and cultural capital for success among socioeconomically disadvantaged
children).
In the study, I visited and videotaped all the English lessons on at least five consecutive
school days in each of the eight English classes of the eight teachers participating in this
study. The eight teachers were in seven schools from a range of socioeconomic and
academic backgrounds. I informally interviewed small groups of the students, and
collected other curricular, assessment, and background information on the classes and the
schools. The data excerpt included in this chapter has been taken from a corpus of lesson
data videotaped in the class of one teacher (Mr. Chan)
3
over three consecutive weeks.
2
. For instance, many students are willing to pay expensive tuition fees to private
exam-oriented tutorial centres to get tips and training on exam-taking skills.
3
. All personal names are pseudo-names.

Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Based on a long-term, evolving exploration regarding English language teaching and learning in English-and vernacular-medium settings in Gujarat, India, this paper offers a discussion of two key points: 1) the degree to which English is vernacularized in multilingual postcolonial contexts, and 2) ways in which vernacular pedagogic practices are effective ways of learning and teaching English. The paper then moves into discussing the implications of such points for west-based TESOL-specifically teacher education-which has historically viewed vernacular pedagogic practices in non-western contexts as not being 'effective' or 'communicative.' The paper concludes with a discussion of what I, as insider to both communities—a native to India and a partial practitioner of west-based TESOL teacher-education—am doing to build bridges between the two realms that have hitherto remained relatively separate.

24 citations


Cites background from "Resistance and Creativity in Englis..."

  • ...Needless to say, this and other such explorations (Lin, 2001; Sahni, 2001; Stein, 2001) open up ways in which we can rethink aspects of west-based TESOL and while the ‘meanings’ of my points previous are only one set of pos-...

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In the field of second and foreign language learning, interaction has long been considered to play an important role. Studies taking a more traditional, formalist perspective on language and learning have focused on the role that interaction plays in helping learners to assimilate and internalize knowledge of linguistic forms in the target language. More recently, a group of scholars concerned with interaction and additional language learning, or the learning of languages other than the mother tongue, has begun to move away from this more traditional perspective and into areas outside of what has generally been considered the main focus of the applied linguistics field. Taking more of a sociocultural perspective on language and learning, this research is concerned with documenting the links between student participation in particular kinds of classroom interaction and their communicative development in the target language.

23 citations


Cites result from "Resistance and Creativity in Englis..."

  • ...Lin (1999a, 1999b, 2000) reported similar findings in her study of junior form English language classrooms in Hong Kong....

    [...]


Lin1Institutions (1)
01 Jan 2011-

20 citations


01 Jan 2014-
Abstract: Bilingualism is becoming more common worldwide, and it remains a central educational policy in Singapore. In this document, we review research related to bilingualism and literacy development and achievement. Following an ecological framework, we outline known factors contributing to literacy achievement and discuss findings from bilingual research regarding these factors. We conclude with recommendations for educational practice informed by the research literature. Section 1: Background and Introduction It has often been said that bilingualism is the cornerstone of Singapore’s education system. As a polyglot nation with citizens who speak Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin, the English language was chosen to be the language of instruction in Singapore. Thus, students in school who learn in English, while also maintaining proficiency in a mother tongue, are by definition all bilingual. But what does it mean to be bilingual? To know two languages is the simple answer, but this does not convey the nuanced definition of what it means to know a language. Nor does it capture the complexity in the different types and degrees of bilingualism that may exist on individual levels. Depending on one’s perspective, language can be seen as a “hard-wired” skill specific to our species (Pinker, 1994) or the enabler of cultural transmission in human societies (Vygotsky, as cited in Lantolf & Appel, 1994), with different implications for what it means to know a language (e.g., as an innate endowment and/ or as a socially acquired competence for communication). There is also diversity in terms of the level of fluency that any given bilingual person has with their two or more languages. Bilinguals may differ in whether they are equally proficient in their two languages (balanced/

15 citations


Cites background or result from "Resistance and Creativity in Englis..."

  • ...Similarly in studies by Lin (1999) and Vaish (2008) both the dominant home language and English (as a medium of instruction) were an integral part of the classroom ecology. In these studies the teachers used a similar strategy: they approached the text, which was in English, with the sole purpose of answering examtype questions. The teacher used code mixing to guide students towards those passages in the text which answer the questions being targeted. In fact, in Vaish (2008) the teacher actually made the students bracket the exact chunk of text that would answer a question, and thereafter the students copied that specific chunk of text into their notebooks....

    [...]

  • ...The practice of using the student’s mother tongue or L1 to teach English has also been researched in numerous Asian countries where English is either the medium of instruction or taught as a second language, like in Hong Kong (Lo & Macaro, 2012; Lin, 1999), Taiwan (Tien, 2009), India (Vaish, 2008) and Brunei (Martin, 2003). For example, Tien (2009) found that the main reasons the teacher switched codes was to explain linguistic forms, manage the classroom, and build solidarity. An important observation made by Tien (2009, p. 188) is that “a strict formulation of function is not necessarily possible as a particular instance of code-switching may be multi-functional”. That is, in explaining linguistic forms, the teacher would switch from English to Mandarin so students would understand the content, whereas in teaching cultural issues, Mandarin was usually always used. In a similar study, Lo and Macaro (2009) explored the ways that the teacher code-switched in secondary schools in Hong Kong where the medium of instruction shifted from Mandarin to English, or where the medium of instruction was always English....

    [...]

  • ...Chen, Lin, Xie, Chu, and Tan (2012) investigated whether collaborative learning enhanced by...

    [...]

  • ...Other things being equal, learning through one’s stronger language better promotes higher order thinking (Morrison & Lui, 2000), and leads to stronger academic motivation and commitment to learning and understanding (Education Department [Hong Kong], 1994, as cited in Morrison & Lui, 2000)....

    [...]

  • ...The practice of using the student’s mother tongue or L1 to teach English has also been researched in numerous Asian countries where English is either the medium of instruction or taught as a second language, like in Hong Kong (Lo & Macaro, 2012; Lin, 1999), Taiwan (Tien, 2009), India (Vaish, 2008) and Brunei (Martin, 2003). For example, Tien (2009) found that the main reasons the teacher switched codes was to explain linguistic forms, manage the classroom, and build solidarity....

    [...]


01 Jan 2008-
Abstract: This research employs an ethnographic approach to examine teacher-student interaction during teacher-fronted classroom time in classrooms for English majors in a Chinese university. It involves two teachers and their respective classes. The data was collected through classroom observing, audio- and video-taping, oral report, interviewing and stimulated reflection across a two and a half month period. The data is analyzed qualitatively, using Nvivo as the main research tool and grounded theory as the approach. Informed by Vygotsky's (1978) sociocultural theory which puts talk at the core of successful teaching and learning, the analysis presented explores the patterns of interaction established in the two classes and learning opportunities embedded in them through the way the teachers interacted with their students. Erickson's (1982) constructs: academic and social participation structures, were adopted as the main frames for analyzing the data since these allow the integration of pedagogical and interactional aspects of teacher-student interaction. Analysis of the academic participation structures in the two classes revealed a traditional textbook-directed, teacher-controlled transmission mode of teaching with the focus on rote learning, vocabulary, mechanical practice, recalling from memory and knowledge rather than on language skill, meaningful interaction, understanding and method. Students were afforded fewer opportunities to participate meaningfully in classroom interaction. The teachers controlled not only the topics of academic learning but the way to learn the content. Analysis of the social participation structures showed that the teacher-student interaction was dominated by the teacher-initiated monologic IRF sequence with the I move mainly used to initiate known-information questions and the F move used to both evaluate and carry on with more instruction. The data shows how the heavy reliance on the strict IRF constrained the students' opportunities to participate in classroom discourse and to develop cognitively and linguistically. At a more general level, reliance on the IRF also shaped and constrained the students' epistemologies and learning styles. However, the picture that emerged was not all bleak. Both teachers allowed for variations to the ways the students participated, allowing the students some choice over when and how to participate. In spite of a relaxed participatory control, student initiations still rarely occurred. Consistent with the holistic nature of qualitative research, the current research also investigated contextual issues which shaped the teacher-student interaction. A range of issues were identified which largely arose from the teachers' view of language and language learning and their lack of professional development. The students were also found responsible for the interactive environment: they shared a lot of their teachers' view of language and language learning, and their cultures of learning, limited language resources and anxiety also contributed to their passive speech role, thus allowing their teachers to play a dominant role in classroom discourse unchallenged. Based on the analysis, a range of pedagogical implications have been suggested addressing academic and social participation structures and professional development of the teachers and contextual issues. The thesis concludes by proposing directions for future research.

15 citations


Cites background from "Resistance and Creativity in Englis..."

  • ...beliefs and assumptions about language and language learning process, Goh & Liu (1999) reported that the subjects in their study generally considered using a language in daily life the best way to learn it, which implied that many Chinese students had departed from the view of seeing grammar as of primary importance to language learning....

    [...]


References
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Based on a long-term, evolving exploration regarding English language teaching and learning in English-and vernacular-medium settings in Gujarat, India, this paper offers a discussion of two key points: 1) the degree to which English is vernacularized in multilingual postcolonial contexts, and 2) ways in which vernacular pedagogic practices are effective ways of learning and teaching English. The paper then moves into discussing the implications of such points for west-based TESOL-specifically teacher education-which has historically viewed vernacular pedagogic practices in non-western contexts as not being 'effective' or 'communicative.' The paper concludes with a discussion of what I, as insider to both communities—a native to India and a partial practitioner of west-based TESOL teacher-education—am doing to build bridges between the two realms that have hitherto remained relatively separate.

24 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: In the field of second and foreign language learning, interaction has long been considered to play an important role. Studies taking a more traditional, formalist perspective on language and learning have focused on the role that interaction plays in helping learners to assimilate and internalize knowledge of linguistic forms in the target language. More recently, a group of scholars concerned with interaction and additional language learning, or the learning of languages other than the mother tongue, has begun to move away from this more traditional perspective and into areas outside of what has generally been considered the main focus of the applied linguistics field. Taking more of a sociocultural perspective on language and learning, this research is concerned with documenting the links between student participation in particular kinds of classroom interaction and their communicative development in the target language.

23 citations


01 Jan 2014-
Abstract: Bilingualism is becoming more common worldwide, and it remains a central educational policy in Singapore. In this document, we review research related to bilingualism and literacy development and achievement. Following an ecological framework, we outline known factors contributing to literacy achievement and discuss findings from bilingual research regarding these factors. We conclude with recommendations for educational practice informed by the research literature. Section 1: Background and Introduction It has often been said that bilingualism is the cornerstone of Singapore’s education system. As a polyglot nation with citizens who speak Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin, the English language was chosen to be the language of instruction in Singapore. Thus, students in school who learn in English, while also maintaining proficiency in a mother tongue, are by definition all bilingual. But what does it mean to be bilingual? To know two languages is the simple answer, but this does not convey the nuanced definition of what it means to know a language. Nor does it capture the complexity in the different types and degrees of bilingualism that may exist on individual levels. Depending on one’s perspective, language can be seen as a “hard-wired” skill specific to our species (Pinker, 1994) or the enabler of cultural transmission in human societies (Vygotsky, as cited in Lantolf & Appel, 1994), with different implications for what it means to know a language (e.g., as an innate endowment and/ or as a socially acquired competence for communication). There is also diversity in terms of the level of fluency that any given bilingual person has with their two or more languages. Bilinguals may differ in whether they are equally proficient in their two languages (balanced/

15 citations


01 Jan 2008-
Abstract: This research employs an ethnographic approach to examine teacher-student interaction during teacher-fronted classroom time in classrooms for English majors in a Chinese university. It involves two teachers and their respective classes. The data was collected through classroom observing, audio- and video-taping, oral report, interviewing and stimulated reflection across a two and a half month period. The data is analyzed qualitatively, using Nvivo as the main research tool and grounded theory as the approach. Informed by Vygotsky's (1978) sociocultural theory which puts talk at the core of successful teaching and learning, the analysis presented explores the patterns of interaction established in the two classes and learning opportunities embedded in them through the way the teachers interacted with their students. Erickson's (1982) constructs: academic and social participation structures, were adopted as the main frames for analyzing the data since these allow the integration of pedagogical and interactional aspects of teacher-student interaction. Analysis of the academic participation structures in the two classes revealed a traditional textbook-directed, teacher-controlled transmission mode of teaching with the focus on rote learning, vocabulary, mechanical practice, recalling from memory and knowledge rather than on language skill, meaningful interaction, understanding and method. Students were afforded fewer opportunities to participate meaningfully in classroom interaction. The teachers controlled not only the topics of academic learning but the way to learn the content. Analysis of the social participation structures showed that the teacher-student interaction was dominated by the teacher-initiated monologic IRF sequence with the I move mainly used to initiate known-information questions and the F move used to both evaluate and carry on with more instruction. The data shows how the heavy reliance on the strict IRF constrained the students' opportunities to participate in classroom discourse and to develop cognitively and linguistically. At a more general level, reliance on the IRF also shaped and constrained the students' epistemologies and learning styles. However, the picture that emerged was not all bleak. Both teachers allowed for variations to the ways the students participated, allowing the students some choice over when and how to participate. In spite of a relaxed participatory control, student initiations still rarely occurred. Consistent with the holistic nature of qualitative research, the current research also investigated contextual issues which shaped the teacher-student interaction. A range of issues were identified which largely arose from the teachers' view of language and language learning and their lack of professional development. The students were also found responsible for the interactive environment: they shared a lot of their teachers' view of language and language learning, and their cultures of learning, limited language resources and anxiety also contributed to their passive speech role, thus allowing their teachers to play a dominant role in classroom discourse unchallenged. Based on the analysis, a range of pedagogical implications have been suggested addressing academic and social participation structures and professional development of the teachers and contextual issues. The thesis concludes by proposing directions for future research.

15 citations