Title: English Public Exams, Tutorial Classes, and Inequality: An Investigation of Small-scale English Tutorial Classes in Hong Kong
Stream: Applied linguistics research
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Hoi Yat Pun, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
The English tutoring industry and its impact on formal schooling in Hong Kong have been extensively discussed, both academically and in mass media. Yet the focus has normally been on large-scale tutorial centres, where the tutor ‘kings and queens’ are often the centres of attention. Due to the double impact of the pandemic and high land rent, there has been a decline in the large-scale tutorial chain stores, and small-scale classes given by lesser-known tutors have been emerging in return. This raises new issues from various aspects, such as the pricing and the quality of the tutors, information cost of the tutees, what English skills are taught and learnt, etc. There is a need to address them.
This presentation discusses the small-scale English tutorial classes from a political economy perspective. By examining the roles of tutors, tutees, and English in the tutorial lessons as a set of social-linguistical practice, it seeks to reveal the underlying principles that sustain, or even worsen, the existing inequality in Hong Kong. It is argued that the robotic exam drilling practiced in the tutorial classes, the vocation-driven and writing-dominated nature of the HKDSE English exam, together with the fact that private secondary schools in Hong Kong have the privilege to choose other more internationally recognised exams like GCSE or IB, make it the case that HKDSE takers may become disadvantaged regardless of their English proficiency. The presentation also includes a discussion on how HKDSE takers perceive English learning when they are at tertiary education stage.
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