Current Research Projects by our members


1 August 2018 – 31 July 2020

Children’s Literature in English Language Teaching for Primary Students in Hong Kong (CLELT)

PI: Prof Kathleen Ahrens, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Co-I: Dr Fung King Lee, Jackie, Education University of Hong Kong
Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr Marija Todorova, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Young people find it easier to accept new information when this information is presented in the form of a story. This is true when learning a new language, both native and foreign. English language education in Hong Kong can greatly benefit from using locally produced Anglophone literature in the curriculum because it will 1) provide motivation for students, and 2) build their intercultural skills.

One of the important functions of children's literature is to engage young readers by allowing them to identify themselves on the pages of a book, and to know that they are understood and valued. English language books for children available in Hong Kong have predominantly been produced in the West. This means Hong Kong children who learn the English language are reading about literary contexts far removed from their daily lives. As one of the Hong Kong authors writing in English indicates: “I look forward to the time when children's stories from and about Hong Kong become as common here in Hong Kong as children's stories from the West” (Leou 2014). Recently, an increasing number of books have appeared that portray the realities of everyday life for children in Hong Kong.

But books are not only ‘mirrors’; they also represent ‘windows’ to the culture of the ‘other’. Being a very diverse city, Hong Kong offers potential for culturally diverse children books. This will not only help primary school children learn the English language, but will also increase their intercultural awareness and help them to understand and accept the diversity of their wider society, which is a very important skill for a world that is becoming progressively antagonistic.

During the life of the project a corpus will be built of children’s literature written in English and in Hong Kong by English speaking Hong Kong authors. The project will focus on books for children and young adults that take Hong Kong as a backdrop for the story. Building on insights from narrative theory, books will be analysed as a whole, in order to select a suggested list of books to be used in English Language teaching in Hong Kong primary schools (P1-P6). It will also use relevant ELT methodology in developing sample teaching materials for using Anglophone Hong Kong children’s literature as a way to motivate English language learners in primary schools, to develop their literacy and intercultural awareness by using authentic materials produced in Hong Kong.

Objectives of the project

  • Investigate the scope and the role of the Anglophone children’s literature in Hong Kong’s society and education in a multidisciplinary way.
  • Explore the benefits of using Hong Kong produced Anglophone Literature in English Language Teaching in primary schools in Hong Kong;
  • Develop teaching materials for the use of Hong Kong Anglophone literature in English Language Classrooms;
  • Present teachers with ways to use the materials in their English language classroom at Hong Kong primary schools.

Acknowledgement: The project is funded by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) Proj Ref. No. EDB(LE)/P&R/EL/175/5

Project website: