OUHK Project for Secondary School Teachers
on Conducting Extended Learning Activities in English for Science/ PSHE Key Learning Area
The Open University of Hong Kong
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ELA Background and Relevant Literature

ELA Background

The concept of Extended Learning Activities is an important tenet of the Medium of Instruction policy. Its roots can be traced to the official report released by the Education Commission in 2005. While upholding the benefits of MT education, the Report acknowledged the inadequacy of MT education in promoting English learning, and suggested CMI schools progressively take up to 25% of the total lesson time for ‘extended learning activities conducted in English’ from S1 in the 2010/11 school year (Education Commission, 2005:49). The six forms of ELAs outlined in the Report all involve teaching (part of the) content subjects in English, the second language, in different ways. ELAs continued to be the backbone of the Fine-tuning arrangement effective from 2010 onwards.  It is understood that successful implementation of ELAs would greatly facilitate many former CMI schools shifting to EMI in selected subjects at senior levels.

Content-based instruction (CBI), which involves teaching carefully adapted content knowledge in a second language, provides the underlying rationale for ELAs in essence. Its ultimate target is accomplishment in both content knowledge and second language. The interdependent relationship between content and language being well utilised, a high level of authenticity and relevance is usually the result. Significant improvements in content knowledge, second language ability and motivation have been shown to result from CBI in a number of studies looking at overall achievement (Song, 2005), vocabulary (Chen & Truscott, 2010), grammar (Ellis, 2001), length of pupils’ response (Huang, 2011) and motivation in learning (Chu, 2014).  The achievements resulting from CBI contrast strongly with the problems associated with pre-1997 education – ‘stunted cognitive growth and lack of creativity’ (Pattanayak, 2000:5), and the traditional English lessons where L2 teaching confines learners to doing mechanical, low-level exercises (Gibbons, 2009).

The School of Education and Languages of the Open University of Hong Kong plans to help in-service teachers to capitalize on the favourable synergistic effects from CBI by providing relevant teacher training. Content subject teachers shall be knowledgeable in the differences between general and subject-specific language (See Andrews, 2008). Those ‘language aware’ content teachers shall also be able to ‘mediate and facilitate students’ learning’ through strategies developed in the field (Lo and Lin, 2015:266). Equally important is that at the end of the course, all teacher participants will be convinced that ELA is a viable and worthwhile means of preparing students for English medium study in senior secondary and beyond.



Andrews, S. J. (2008). Teacher language awareness (pp. 2038-2049). Springer US.

Chen, C., & Truscott, J. (2010). The effects of repetition and L1 lexicalization on incidental vocabulary acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 31, 693-713.

Chu, Y. W. E. (2014). Teachers' and Students' Views on the MOI Fine-tuning Arrangement in Hong Kong. Conference Proceedings of The Asian Conference on Language Learning 2014, 211-231 (ISSN – 2186-4691)

Education Commission (2005) Report on Review of Medium of Instruction for Secondary Schools and Secondary Schools Places Allocation, Hong Kong, Logistics Department.

Ellis, R. (2001). Investigating form-focussed instruction. In R. Ellis (Ed.) Form--focussed instruction and second language leaning (pp.1-46). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Gibbons, P. (2009). English learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the challenge zone. Heinemann: Portsmouth, USA.

Huang, K.M. (2011). Motivating lessons: A classroom-oriented investigation of the effects of content-based instruction on EFL young learners’ motivated behaviours and classroom verbal interaction. System 39, 186-201.

Lo, Y. Y., & Lin, A. M. (2015). Special issue: Designing multilingual and multimodal CLIL frameworks for EFL students. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism18(3), 261-269.

Pattanayak, D. P. ‘Educational use of the mother tongue’ in B. SPOLSKY (2000) (ed.) Language and Education in Multilingual Settings, Clevedon, Multilingual Matters.

Song, B. (2005). Content-based ESL instruction: Long-term effects and outcomes. English for Specific Purposes 25 (2006), 420-437. Elsevier Ltd.


Other Relevant Literature

Education Bureau (2010). Enriching Our Language Environment. Realising Our Vision. Fine-tuning of Medium of Instruction for Secondary Schools. (PDF attached)

Chu, E. Y. (2019). What is effective second language exposure and how does it relate to content-based instruction and language across the curriculum?. Journal of Second Language Studies2(1), 93-118.

Storey, P. R. G. et al (2011) Final Report of the Consultancy Service for Study of Extended Learning Activities Conducted in English in Chinese Medium Schools in Hong Kong (290 pages), Hong Kong, Education Bureau