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Fine-tuning the Medium of Instruction for Secondary Schools: Flexible, Diversified and Student-centred

Mr Benjamin Yung
Principal Assistant Secretary

     Since the 2010/11 school year, the Education Bureau (EDB) has implemented the fine-tuned medium of instruction (MOI) arrangements for secondary schools under which schools have been given the flexibility to plan their school-based MOI arrangements, thereby offering more opportunities to junior secondary students for exposure to and use of English.  Under the policy objective of upholding mother-tongue teaching while enhancing students’ proficiency in both Chinese and English, the fine-tuned arrangements seek to ensure students' learning efficacy and strengthen their ability to learn in English, so that they are well equipped for further studies and career pursuits.  The fine-tuned arrangements are instrumental in nurturing biliterate talents for consolidating Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre and business hub, and supporting the development of Hong Kong and our country.

     Under the fine-tuned MOI framework, schools are no longer bifurcated into schools using Chinese as the MOI and schools using English as the MOI.  Instead, schools should, according to the prescribed criteria of student ability, teacher capability and school-based support, devise professionally appropriate MOI arrangements under a six-year planning cycle with reference to their school-based circumstances so as to achieve the goal of addressing learner diversity with student-oriented teaching.

Proven benefits of fine-tuned arrangements

     It will soon be the last year of the second cycle of the fine-tuned arrangements.  Looking back on the implementation and development in the last decade or so, we are glad to see that schools have capitalised on the flexibility accorded by the fine-tuned arrangements, enabling students to benefit from diversified MOI arrangements in a professional and school-based manner.  Under the fine-tuned framework, schools have flexibly devised teaching arrangements "by class", "by group", “by subject”, “by session”, or by adopting a mixed mode so that the most appropriate MOI is used to ensure students’ learning efficacy and enrich the English learning environment in schools.  For subjects taught in the mother tongue, the conduct of extended learning activities (ELA) in English, such as teaching certain modules/topics or going over the concepts and content of a subject again in English, has enabled students to consolidate their subject knowledge while providing them with more opportunities for exposure to and use of English.  In short, with the joint efforts of schools, teachers and students, the fine-tuned arrangements have yielded discernible benefits.

Continuous implementation of fine-tuned framework with appropriate refinements

     The EDB will take forward the existing fine-tuned MOI framework into the third cycle (i.e. 2022/23 to 2027/28 school years).  Schools’ discretion on MOI arrangements will continue to be determined by the three prescribed criteria of student ability, teacher capability and school-based support, so that students can continue to benefit from the merits of fine-tuned arrangements.  If schools fail to meet the prescribed criterion of "student ability", as reflected by the Secondary School Places Allocation results in 2020 and 2021, their MOI discretion will be subject to change and they will be required to adjust their school-based MOI arrangements accordingly under the relevant mechanism.  A professional support mechanism will be introduced to help the schools concerned work out appropriate arrangements.  Should individual schools intend to carry on with their existing MOI arrangements, they may submit an application under the mechanism.  With students' learning efficacy as the primary concern, we will scrutinise each case in a professional and rigorous manner and carefully review the circumstances of each applicant school, including the experience accumulated with fine-tuned arrangements and their teaching effectiveness, before deciding whether an application should be approved.

     Besides, in view of the school sector's feedback, we will refine the implementation details of the fine-tuned arrangements under the prevailing mechanism, so as to help schools cope with the recent changes in teaching environment and better cater for the needs of students.  Our initiatives include fine-tuning the class size parameter by which the "student ability" criterion is determined, so that changes in the Secondary One population can be more accurately reflected.  Schools will also be accorded greater flexibility in planning their arrangements for ELA in English and "allocation of time to subjects".  Schools may then flexibly take the three years of junior secondary learning stage as a unit, and, in an orderly and progressive manner, make wholesale allocation of ELA lesson time (up to 25% of total lesson time excluding the lesson time of the English Language subject) as well as subjects to be covered by "allocation of time to subjects" for the same cohort of students.

Parents' choice of a suitable school for children's whole-person development

     We understand that the MOI of a school has always been one of parents' considerations in making school choices for their children.  With the fine-tuned arrangements gradually delivering results, schools' MOI arrangements at junior secondary levels have become more diversified and flexible.  Instead of focusing merely on the extent of mother-tongue and English teaching in individual schools, parents are encouraged to take into account the needs of their children and the mission, characteristics, teaching strategies, etc. of each school to ensure that their school choices are in line with children's abilities and interests, and conducive to children's whole-person development.  In seeking admission to Secondary One for their children, parents can check out relevant information, such as that on school-based MOI arrangements provided by their desired schools in the Secondary School Profiles (usually released every December) or on the school websites.

Looking forward

     In the third cycle of the fine-tuned arrangements, we will continue to maintain close partnership with schools, and provide various kinds of school-based support and teacher training programmes to consolidate the experience gained and promote professional exchange, so as to ensure the quality of classroom learning and teaching.  In addition, to keep pace with the times, we plan to conduct in the third cycle a comprehensive review of the MOI policy with a view to timely refining the policy according to review findings around the end of the third cycle.


29 April 2021