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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Study Abroad: Education Sources: Hong Kong

This guide is intended for a study abroad course at the College of Education.

Map of Hong Kong

Travel Information

Dictionaries and Translation Tools

It is useful to have access to a good dictionary or translation tool when traveling in a country where you do not speak the native language. Check out the resources below, recommended by an American student who taught in rural China:

Natural Disasters and School Emergency Drills

Information about school emergency drills such as fire drills or drills for other natural disasters may not be available online. However, according to an American student teaching abroad in rural China, her school has evacuation procedures for fires that are reviewed at least once per term, and occasionally the local fire department is brought in to do demonstrations, similar to many U.S. schools.

Another way to be prepared is to be aware of some of the other common natural disasters that may occur in Hong Kong aside from standard school fire drills:

  • Typhoons: Typhoon season runs from April through October. These storms may cause flooding and landslides.

Finding More Resources in the Library Catalog

To find more background information about the educational system of Hong Kong, try these tips for searching the library catalog:

Here are some keywords that may be useful in your search:

  • Education -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Education -- Asia
  • Education, higher -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Education, primary -- China -- Hong Kong
  • General education -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Teacher-student relationships -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Education -- curricula
  • Curriculum planning
  • Curriculum evaluation

Hong Kong Education Bureau

Background Information on Education System

There are many library resources that provide background information on educational issues in Hong Kong. Try the article, "China, people's Republic of.", available through the library's collections. The first article is available in print in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library's reference book:

Online publications from the OECD and UNESCO may also provide useful information:

For similar articles, try searching keywords and phrases such as Study & teaching of nationalism, Cultural education, and Chinese national characteristics.

Try looking at the following library resources for further information:

In the Classroom: Teaching Tips

Before you leave, review these teaching tips from a student who is teaching English in China. Her teaching experience is in a rural school, which may have a different environment than Hong Kong, but there still may be some similarities:

  • Students tend to be very eager and willing to participate in classroom activities. Any resistance to participating usually comes from being shy or not fully understanding what is being asked of them. Take time to really explain activities, providing examples of what you are asking them to do.
  • Students can be very shy and unwilling to talk at first. To help them relax in the classroom, let them get to know you by showing them pictures of your friends and family and by being silly and animated as you explain vocabulary. Always be sure to encourage them for speaking up and participating in the classroom.
  • The students aren’t used to fun lessons using games, videos, and songs, but they really enjoy them. These fun activities are a good way to get students excited about learning.
  • In terms of personal space, it is acceptable to pat your students on the back, give them high fives, and lean over their shoulder to help them with work. Personal “bubbles” in China are way smaller than in the United States, so  students won’t think it is strange or feel like you are intruding. Many times students will hold the teaching assistant's hand before or after class.
  • Classes tend to be well behaved, but if you do face any disciplinary problems, be very gentle. “Loosing face” in China is a big deal, so it is important not to embarrass students.

Cultural Norms and Etiquette

For information about cultural norms in Hong Kong, try these resources:

To find more resources, try searching using the following keywords:

  • Etiquette -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Etiquette -- Asia
  • Culture shock -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong (China) -- social life and customs
  • Asia -- social life and customs
  • Intercultural communication

It may also be helpful to review these cultural tips from a student who is teaching English in China. Her experience is in a rural area, which may have a different environment than Hong Kong, but there still may be some cultural similarities:

  • It is considered arrogant and rude to say "thank you" when someone gives you a compliment. Instead, you should politely refute it (e.g., saying “No, no, I’m too tall and ugly” when someone says you are pretty). It may feel strange but it is the culturally proper response to a compliment.
  • It is common for people to ask to take photos with foreigners, and it is up to you whether you say yes.
  • Personal bubbles in China are much smaller than in the United States, so don't be surprised when strangers or acquaintances touch you or sit, stand, or walk very close to you. Friends of the same gender, including men, in China are also affectionate with each other, including sitting very close to each other, holding hands, and laying on each other.
  • Smoking is very common for men and they will smoke anywhere, even in restaurants and around babies. Men may be asked if they want to smoke, but you do not have to accept. However, women don’t smoke in public, only at home or in bars.
  • China is a highly patriarchal society. This likely won’t have a huge impact on your day-to-day life but it may be good to keep in mind as you witness and take part in cultural interactions. 
  • Elders are very highly respected, so remember to always be very courteous to them.
  • At least in rural China, many toilets are squatters and need to be manually flushed. There also usually isn’t toilet paper in public restrooms, so you may want to keep some with you.
  • People are generally kind and helpful, especially if they can tell you are a foreigner, so don’t be afraid to talk to them and ask for help if you need it, even if you don't speak Chinese. Most people will be patient if you need to use a translation app to ask questions.

General Asia-Pacific Education Journals

There are many journals focused on various aspects of education in the Asia-Pacific region. The following journals are available online through the library's website and can be searched for relevant articles: