Bilingualism in schools is a controversial topic often discussed in the United States. It raises questions about whether bilingualism hinders or fosters multiculturalism and assimilation of immigrants, regardless of which immigrant generation they identify with. However, taking note of how English is taught elsewhere, such as Hong Kong, is just as intriguing.
As background reference, it’s important to note that in 1998, the official language in Hong Kong schools changed from English to Cantonese, a dialect of Chinese. These changes were abruptly made when England was heading back to Hong Kong. In a CNN article, it was written that administrators said these changes were made “to help students better understand their lessons and improve classroom interaction.” However, it is hard to say if these changes are improving the quality of education these students receive.
The teaching of English in Hong Kong and other places in Asia has raised questions whether teaching English in schools is beneficial for students or not. Though studies have found that Chinese-speaking classes have scored better on the same exams that English schools took, will a Chinese-only education serve them better in the long run? English has often been deemed the language of business and economics throughout the world. If this is true, wouldn’t not teaching English in schools hinder their ability to enter the business world when they’re older? This issue also addresses the question of whether or not English is truly essential and how much English really needs to be emphasized in schools.