Innovation in Hong Kong's new senior secondary English language curriculum

Learning English through popular culture

Phil Benson*, John Patkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the context of the educational reforms that began at the turn of the century, Hong Kong's New Senior Secondary (NSS) English language curriculum was launched in 2009. An important aim of the curriculum reforms is to make teaching and learning more relevant to students' everyday lives through more student-centred approaches to pedagogy. In the context of English language teaching and learning, the reforms also involve an emphasis on 'cultural enrichment' and 'personal involvement', in addition to 'language enrichment'. The main feature that supports these aims is an innovative emphasis on language arts and the introduction of four language arts electives, including one entitled Learning English through Popular Culture. Based on analysis of curriculum documents and resources and student surveys conducted before and after the first round of implementation of the 3-year curriculum, this chapter discusses the role that popular culture now plays in senior secondary English language teaching (ELT). While arguing that the inclusion of popular culture in the NSS English curriculum is largely a positive move, it identifies significant unresolved issues in the implementation of the curriculum, which may limit the degree to which it succeeds in achieving its goals of cultural enrichment and making English language teaching more relevant to students' lives.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish Language Education and Assessment
Subtitle of host publicationRecent Developments in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland
EditorsDavid Coniam
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789812870711
ISBN (Print)9812870709, 9789812870704
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Cite this

Benson, P., & Patkin, J. (2014). Innovation in Hong Kong's new senior secondary English language curriculum: Learning English through popular culture. In D. Coniam (Ed.), English Language Education and Assessment: Recent Developments in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland (pp. 3-15). Singapore: Springer, Springer Nature.