Assimilation or Isolation? The Case of Mainland Chinese Immigrant Students in Hong Kong
Suet-ling Pong, Pennsylvania State University
Wing Kwong Tsang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
Despite disadvantageous home backgrounds, Mainland Chinese immigrant students outperform native Hong Kong students in all academic subjects except the English language, from Form 1 to 3 (grades 7-9). Over time, Mainland students attain achievement growth faster than native students in most subjects. Even though Mainland students perform poorly in the English language, they pick up speed over time and narrow the nativity gap in Form 3. Mainland students’ high performance cannot be explained by their low socioeconomic backgrounds or the low-achieving schools they attend. Many Mainland students are overaged for their grade but they perform just as well as other younger students. Also, Chinese-medium schools, especially medium- or low-ability schools, are more effective in promoting high achievement in Mainland students than are English-medium or high-ability schools. The implications of these Hong Kong results for international studies on immigrant children’s academic assimilation are discussed.