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Hong Kong - A Multilingual City

             Sociolinguistic Situation of Hong Kong .
             Within the discourse of linguistics, there is not a unanimous definition among linguists for the term multilingualism (Kemp, 2009). It generally refers to the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (2014) on the use of language in Hong Kong in 2012, a majority of respondents percevied their competency in Cantonese (97.2%), spoken English (60.6%) and Putonghua (63.9%) as average or above. This study shows that more than half of the population in Hong Kong are bilingual or trilingual in Cantonese, English and Mandarin. The data reflects that Hong Kong is undoubtedly a 'multilingual' city where Cantonese is used as a 'usual language' by the majority and English being the 'lingua franca'. This paper aims to discuss the extent of multilingualism in the Hong Kong society from three different aspects: education domain, public and private sectors, and the use of language in daily contexts.
             Education Domain.
             After the handover in 1997, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government implemented the policy of mother-tongue teaching for most non-Chinese Language-related subjects so as to promote Cantonese as the medium of instruction in secondary schools. The Education Bureau (2014) claims that teaching in mother-tongue (i.e. Cantonese) has many positive effects on students' learning outcomes, for instance: students of traditional Chinese-medium schools have better performance (i.e. higher passing rate on average) than their English-medium schools' counterparts in both Chinese Language and English Language in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examiniation (HKCEE). However, about 100 secondary schools were permitted to insist on using English as the medium of instruction as they used to be in order to retain the students' competence of the use of English as well as the competitiveness in university admission (Evans, 2009).

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