Language Policy

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 371–394 | Cite as

Raising English Language Standards in Hong Kong



Despite the return of sovereignty to China in 1997, the Hong Kong government acknowledges that a high level of English language ability is still required among the workforce in order to maintain Hong Kong’s position as an international commercial centre. Although there is no shortage of willingness on the part of the government to introduce measures to improve worrying English language standards, implementing such innovations has proved difficult. After briefly outlining several measures introduced over the past 20 years, we examine two specific language policy innovations: the introduction of a public examination format designed to have a beneficial washback effect on teaching and the employment of hundreds of native English speakers to teach English in the primary and secondary sectors. We conclude that although both measures are potentially valuable means of bringing about improvements in language learning, they need to be handled with caution if they are to form part of strategic language policy.


English language enhancement English language standards examination washback Hong Kong native English speaker teachers 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The English CentreThe University of Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR, PRC
  2. 2.English Language Teaching UnitChinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong SAR PRC

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