Good Critical Thinking About Education Critical Literature Review
The English language is the universal language. It is not the language that has the largest number of native speakers but it is still considered as the universal language because it is the most commonly used one in international transactions and dialogues. Therefore, the feat of teaching the country’s general population how to be proficient in using this language can never be taken for granted.
The challenge, however, comes with the process of teaching the general population. This is mainly because there are simply a lot of things that must be considered in order to arrive at a certain metric of success which is often based on the literacy rate of the students learning the language. Perhaps one of the biggest factors to consider would be the creation of a standardized English language curriculum. In this paper, five academic journals about the changes in the English language curriculum in Hong Kong were chosen. The articles were chosen based on their level of relevance to the topic being critiqued—the changes in English language curriculum in Hong Kong.
Curriculums exist because they serve as a guideline that educational institutions follow as a basis for the lesson plans and teaching and assessment strategies that their instructors use. Preferably, the curriculum that an educational organization (or even an entire country’s educational system) uses must be in light with its long term goals and objectives. In this case, the purpose of the curriculum is to standardize the plans, methods, and strategies that educators use to teach English language proficiency to their students. In theory, without a standardized curriculum in this case, the students would be coming from different springboards of knowledge when it comes to English language proficiency and for a country that has a different native language, that can become problematic, maybe not in the short term but over the long term.
Quong, in his paper, discussed the different effects of educational reforms at the school level in Hong Kong. According to the results of his analysis, the main paradigm shift in curriculum (in the school level in Hong Kong) can be described in terms of a change from a more technical approach to knowledge acquisition (as evidenced by earlier versions of curriculums used by educational institutions in the country) to a more critical and practical one. He used Habernas’ theory on the notion of knowledge as the basis of his analysis. Basically, what Habernas via his theory suggests is that education reforms (i.e. curriculum reforms) can be interpreted as a real change in the teachers’ existing perceptions on the values and understanding of what really constitutes a good educational practice. Educators and sometimes education policy makers often attempt to materialize those real changes by implementing reforms, one good example of which would be developing new curriculums that are based on applicable trends and demographics.
In a journal published in the IJSCL, the authors described the educational values and the different attempts to develop an English Language Curriculum in Hong Kong secondary schools since the year 1975. According to the authors’ narrative, English language curriculum in Hong Kong, a highly internationally active country economically, politically, and socially, has had numerous significant changes since 1975; and that English language curriculum in Hong Kong secondary schools tend to shift after some time significant socio-economic condition changes occur. This may, however, be interpreted as a totally normal and explainable occurrence because educational curriculums often reflect the interrelated social, political, economic, and cultural factors that make up the description of an education system or from a bigger picture, the entire country .
. This view regarding the development of the English language curriculum in Hong Kong was supported by Wong (2009) in her paper that discussed the different perspectives on the implementation of the New Senior Secondary Curriculum in Hong Kong. She also added that changes in curriculum can be interpreted as the educational system’s way of looking for the perfect balance between teacher and learner autonomy, both of which have been identified as important variables to consider in the field of education. She, however, focused on the NSS curriculum and its implications in Hong Kong’s educational system.
In a review of some 108 empirical studies about the English language education research in Hong Kong published in the Educational Research Journal , the author presented a unique perspective or interpretation on the changes that the Hong Kong educational system has experienced in the last 25 years. According to the author, the changes in Hong Kong’s educational system (which well includes English language curriculum changes) may be interpreted as one of the Hong Kong educational system’s way of maintaining but preferably improving the standards of education in the country—or in this case, to maintain the allegedly declining English proficiency standards among Hong Kong students—a topic which has been hotly debated since the 1980s .
There are numerous ways how to stimulate English learning in a certain geographical location. One proposed way was to incorporate the use of the English language into popular culture so that students would be easily motivated to learn more about the language instead of just changing the curriculum every couple of years or so.
In general, all of the five sources that have been reviewed point to the same thing. They suggest that curriculum changes, not only the ones related to English language, is a natural way of maintaining equilibrium in the system (i.e. between teacher and learner autonomy, among other factors), fixing current problems, and improving and maintaining the current level of education in the system. There are also a lot of alternative ways how to accomplish these objectives and one of the ways presented in the literature was the incorporation of the use of English language in a country’s popular culture.
Personally, based on my own experience as a teacher and as a student, I can attest to the fact that too frequent updates on existing curriculums can be more damaging than helpful. This is because it takes a significant amount of time to get accustomed to a certain widely accepted teaching strategy (which is what most curriculum changes focus on). In the end it would be the students’ learning performance that will be affected by such changes, and in a negative way. Therefore, educational institutions must look for alternative options in order to accomplish their goals and not just rely on one option.
Cheung, C. (2001). The use of popular culture as a stimulus to motivate secondary students' English learning in Hong Kong. Oxford University Press, 01.
Poon, A. (2009). A Review of Research in English Language Education in Hong Kong in the Past 25 Years: Reflections and the Way Forward. Educational Research Journal, 21.
Quong, T. (n.d.). An Analysis of Educational Reform at the School Level in Hong Kong. 22.
Tong, A., & Adamson, B. (2013). Educational Values and the English Language Curriculum in Hong Kong Secondary Schools since 1975. Iranian Journal of Society, Culture, and Language, 01.
Wong, M. (2009). Perspectives on the English Language Education of Hong Kong's New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum. Asian EFL Journal, 61.