Oral Language Development of Preschool Children in Hong Kong

Tse, S.K.


Hong Kong University Press

ISBN: 9789888208128

Language is a most important tool for communicating experience, thoughts, feelings and understanding. Only by mastering language are children in a position to engage in certain complex, conceptual activities. Language is of essential significance when young children learn to sing, discuss, play, conduct social activities and acquire ethics and morals. Language attached to pertinent experiences can effectively lead young children along the road of life-long learning. Therefore it is very important for educators to cultivate and develop young children’s language skills and to help them master the functions of language.

Childhood is an important period for language development. Not only does the brain grow quickly, the acoustic apparatus and speech organs also mature providing a physiological platform for language development. Teaching language to young children is mainly directed at developing their oral skills, as they are precursors to grasping written language skills in the primary school.

Although it is widely accepted in the West that acquiring oral language ability is very important for young children, it is not clear whether this is recognised widely in Hong Kong. The following questions are addressed:

  • Are language programmes in Hong Kong pre-school education well focussed?
  • Do the efforts of kindergartens to prepare children for admission to prestigious primary schools in Hong Kong promote pupils’ all-round language ability?
  • Is the popular notion that children’s oral language ability is a significant factor underpinning thought in young children supported by the outcomes of research?
  • When is the most appropriate time for children to learn Putonghua and English?
  • Why do girls learn languages faster than boys?

There is as yet insufficient research to answer these questions definitively but this attempt to gather together relevant research and literature reviews hopefully helps to narrow the gap. The research covers recent analyses of the development of child education in Hong Kong; language education in young children; research into methods of language study of Hong Kong children; oral syntax and vocabulary acquisition in Hong Kong children; differences in the language ability of boys and girls; the most appropriate time to engage in learning to read and write; and the impact of native tongue on written language and foreign language learning.

The book provides reference to existing and new directions in language teaching of young children in Hong Kong. It should interest researchers, kindergarten, primary school and special education teachers, parents and people interested in the language development of young children.