Education Journal


2006.第34卷第1期(Vol. 34 No. 1).pp. 133–149



Secondary School Students’ Linguistic Attitudes Toward the Learning of Putonghua: A Survey Report in Hong Kong

張本楠(Bennan ZHANG)




On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong ceased to be a colony of the United Kingdom and became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.). The political transition has greatly affected many aspects of Hong Kong society, including language education. Putonghua, the official language of the P.R.C., has grown to be a powerful and important language in primary and secondary schools, sitting together with English and Cantonese side by side. The principal research question addressed in this study was students’ attitudes toward the learning of Putonghua in the context of post-colonial Hong Kong. This article documents findings obtained in a survey conducted in March 2004 on a random sample of 437 secondary school students in Hong Kong. Statistical analyses of the data showed that Hong Kong secondary school students had complicated attitudes toward the learning of Putonghua. In general, only half of the students held positive attitudes toward the learning of Putonghua based on more pragmatic and political reasons; and the other half was inclined to hold negative or ambiguous attitudes. In addition, students who were new immigrants from the Chinese mainland held hesitating or paradoxical attitudes toward the learning of Putonghua, because they were worried about being looked down or discriminated against if they spoke Putonghua.