Perspectives on the English Language Education of Hong Kong’s New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum
Keywords: English language education; curriculum; task-based teaching and learning; Hong Kong senior secondary schools; language arts; small-class teaching
May Lai-Yin Wong
University of Hong Kong
Dr. May L-Y Wong is an honorary assistant professor in the school of humanities (linguistics) at the University of Hong Kong. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in corpus linguistics. Her research interests focus on using corpora to address Chinese and English grammar as it relates to theory, language description and second language acquisition. She also researches into English language teaching and learning in the secondary school context.
The paper explores issues relating to the New Senior Secondary (NSS) English curriculum in view of professional perspectives from curriculum design and task-based principles. To underline the roles played by learners and teachers in curriculum development, this paper looks at curriculum from a social contextual perspective as defined by Graves (2006; 2008). The NSS curriculum was designed to provide greater flexibility for secondary schools to cater for learners varied interests, needs and capabilities, with the first-ever incorporation of an elective part of both language arts and non-language arts modules (e.g. poems and songs, popular culture, social issues, etc.) for learning English both creatively and practically. This study attempts to assess the innovation by considering the availability of resources and teacher education programs, roles of teachers and learners, and assessment schemes. The government has made available a series of teacher training programs and a wide range of resource books and materials packages for use by teachers. The paper argues that learners have recently shown some sign of compliance with task-based teaching, and that small-class teaching could optimise the implementation of the innovative curriculum. The use of school-based assessment in place of public examination in gauging English proficiency is a welcome change.