This paper reports on a two-part investigation of a) Hong Kong primary school students’ written production, and b) the textbooks used in Hong Kong primary schools to teach English. The results of the investigation show that English textbooks used in Hong Kong primary schools are composed mainly of constructed simple conversations. Some texts begin with narration or description but the narrative or descriptive parts only serve to create settings for conversations to take place. We will show that conversational texts in these textbooks have some special characteristics: 1) unbalanced distribution of different tense-aspect forms; 2) over-emphasis on basic interpersonal communicative skills and insufficient presentation of written language features; 3) lack of co-occurrence of different tense-aspect forms in the same texts; and 4) unbalanced distribution of tense-aspect forms among verbs of different types. We will show that these characteristics mirror the problems that our students have in their acquisition of the English tense-aspect system. We argue that it is high time for us to reflect on our teaching methods and produce more structured textbooks which will pay balanced attention to 1) oral communication and written communication; 2) language function and language form; 3) basic interpersonal communication skills and cognitive academic language proficiency.
|Number of pages
|Asia Pacific journal of language in education
|Published - Jun 2000