Multilingual Education

, 2:2

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The status of Cantonese in the education policy of Hong Kong

  • Kwai Sang LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Chinese, The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • , Wai Mun LeungAffiliated withDepartment of Chinese, The Hong Kong Institute of Education Email author 


After the handover of Hong Kong to China, a first-ever policy of "bi-literacy and tri-lingualism" was put forward by the Special Administrative Region Government. Under the trilingual policy, Cantonese, the most dominant local language, equally shares the official status with Putonghua and English only in name but not in spirit, as neither the promotion nor the funding approaches on Cantonese match its legal status. This paper reviews the status of Cantonese in Hong Kong under this policy with respect to the levels of government, education and curriculum, considers the consequences of neglecting Cantonese in the school curriculum, and discusses the importance of large-scale surveys for language policymaking.


the status of Cantonese "bi-literacy and tri-lingualism" policy language survey Cantonese language education