A week in the life of a 'finely tuned' secondary school in Hong Kong

Jim Y. H. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 2010/2011 academic year marked an important turning point in the development of Hong Kong's medium-of-instruction (MOI) policy as it offered secondary schools greater autonomy in determining their MOI policy. This paper examines the implementation of the new fine-tuning MOI policy in a representative secondary school. It compares its school-based language policy with students' (Years 7, 8 and 10) self-reported data about their actual use of English over a five-day week. At the junior secondary level (Years 7 and 8), the findings indicate a close alignment of policy and practice only in the English-medium subjects, whereas in some other subjects, the proportion of use of English could not be clearly determined due largely to the complexity of the school-based policy and teachers' flexibility and autonomy in practice. Furthermore, it is revealed that a highly sophisticated language-using situation at the senior secondary level (Year 10) poses potential challenges for the transition of students graduating from the junior level. The paper concludes by suggesting that a likely outcome of this newly implemented policy will be a return to the colonial government's laissez-faire policy in the 1980s and 1990s, where there was virtually no monitoring of policy implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-430
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • policy implementation
  • medium of instruction
  • fine-tuning policy
  • Chinese
  • English
  • Hong Kong


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