University of Tasmania
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Classroom, identity and diversity : ethnic identity negotiation of Filipino students in Hong Kong multiethnic classrooms

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:53 authored by Gube, JCC
This study explored the links between a multiethnic learning environment and ethnic identity negotiation of Filipino students in Hong Kong. The prominent role of Chinese language in post-1997 Hong Kong, along with the existing school allotment practices, created an emerging segment of scholarship on ethnic minorities with respect to their Chinese language learning, paralleling little explicit research on the interface of their cultural diversity and schooling practices. Particularly, research on ethnic minorities in Hong Kong tended to focus on South Asian (Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese) students that highlighted a notable dearth of literature on how Filipino students engage with schooling environment. In keeping with the effort to understand the cultural diversity in Hong Kong schools, ethnic identity is viewed in this study as a dynamic construct susceptible to shifts within the cultural processes of institutions. Building on this conceptual standpoint using an ethnographic approach, I examined how forms of institutional arrangements, pedagogical practices and student peer networks enabled textured ethnic identity shifts among Filipino students in a Hong Kong secondary school attended mainly by students of Pakistani, Filipino, Indian and Nepalese origin. Drawing on school documents, interviews with a principal and two teachers, observations in one Chinese and two English classes, and interviews with 17 Filipino students, I incorporated three levels of analyses to interrogate the interface of Filipino students' ethnic identity negotiation, their classroom and multiethnic schooling environment. In this thesis, I refer to the multiethnic secondary school as \Melange\" (pseudonym). This site I argue is implicated in the conflicting effects of two discourses: the emphasis on integration in the wider educational discourse and the recognition for cultural diversity within the school under the existing school placement system in Hong Kong that tended to segregate ethnic minority and Chinese students. The data pointed to school-level politics that uniquely positioned Melange to provide students a learning environment that catered to their diverse Chinese language proficiency under a culturally harmonious ethos. In documenting how Melange simultaneously values ethnic minority students' cultural diversity through its institutional ethos and the prevailing discourse on integration through emphasising the importance of learning Chinese in tensioned instructional environments the analysis showed how teachers negotiated their pedagogical practices based on their perceived language proficiency and needs of their students which suggested how they implicitly contested the curriculum materials in Chinese and English subjects. Filipino students negotiated their ethnic identity through musical practices perceptions toward Chinese language learning and the school's culturally harmonious space. I showed how these forms of ethnic identity negotiation foreshadow the shifting cultural boundaries between Filipino and non-Filipino students between proficient and less proficient users of Chinese language and among all ethnic minorities at Melange. I illustrated how such contours of ethnic identity shifts were in part implicated in a dilemma of providing a culturally responsive environment and facilitating ethnic minority students' integration into a predominantly Chinese society that underwrote Hong Kong's multiethnic schooling practices. By highlighting the nexus between the schooling structure and Filipino students' ethnic identity negotiation in a stratified educational landscape I argue that Filipino students' ethnic identity shifts were not only bounded by the lack of Chinese language proficiency a factor that prevented them to fully identify as \"locals\". Their ethnic identity shifts also hinged on established interaction with their own and other ethnic minority groups within their school. Yet this form of socialisation did not always extend beyond Melange opening up more clues on how current student outcomes in Hong Kong multiethnic schools may not be consistent with the education system's intent to immerse ethnic minority students with their local Chinese counterpart."


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 the Author Appendix 6.2 is a published paper: Gube, J and Phillipson, S, Intersections of classroom practices and ethnic identity formation in a Hong Kong multiethnic school: The case of Filipino students, Proceedings of the 2014 Hong Kong international conference on education, psychology and society and the international symposium on social sciences, 29 - 31 December, Hong Kong, pp. 582-591. ISBN 978-986-87417-3-7 (2014). It has been removed for copyright reasons. Appendix 6.2 is a published article: Gube, J. (2015). Can I still be myself around them here? Re-envisioning ethnic identity negotiation in multiethnic schools through a dialogic approach. Knowledge Cultures, 3(4), 131-152.

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