A Longitudinal Study of Mainland Chinese and South Asian Teenage Immigrant Students in Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details


This is a longitudinal study of teenage immigrant students in Hong Kong to understand their academic trajectories and identity formation. Annually about 5,000 newly-arrived children are first admitted to primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. Educational pathway and identity construction, which this research will focus on, are the two key issues relating to the future development and integration of these young immigrants.

This proposal is a continuation and expansion of my PhD dissertation which, conducted from 2008 to 2012, ethnographically explored the academic trajectories and identity formation of newly-arrived immigrant youth in Hong Kong secondary schools as they adapted to schooling and life. They were the teenage children of the two largest incoming groups to Hong Kong: from Mainland China and from South Asia. These two groups formed the focus and were an excellent pair for comparison because 1) they were the two largest immigrant groups; and 2) they represented one Chinese group, sharing similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds with local Hong Kong Chinese, and one non- Chinese group, having utterly different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

At the time of my dissertation research, these students had been in the Hong Kong education system for less than one year. I interviewed 87 students aged between 12 and 18. Now, two to six years later, it is high time to revisit these young people to keep track of their transformations. Although some of them might have left school and are no longer students, and some might have grown to young adults and are no longer teenagers, for the purpose of this study, they will still be included because they came to Hong Kong as teenage students. Their life stories will still be traced.

This project will continue the line of inquiry of my dissertation to investigate the life stories of young immigrants in Hong Kong with special reference to academic trajectories and identity formation through 1) in-depth interviews; 2) participant observation; and 3) class shadowing for those who are at school. This investigation seeks to illuminate the full complexity of young immigrants’ situations in their first five to ten years as they adapt to schooling and life in Hong Kong. It will particularly elucidate the promises and obstacles along their academic pathway, and the complex process of identity construction. It will offer informed suggestions as to what kind of support and intervention might be most effective in advancing educational equity and social integration.
Effective start/end date1/12/1530/11/18

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education


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