This study sought to identify how teachers of science in English medium secondary schools in Hong Kong make science content accessible to students through English, the students second language. The strong emphasis on language outcomes in much of the research on late immersion (of which English medium education in Hong Kong is considered an example) indicates that a study which addresses classroom processes may be timely.
The significance of language in immersion education suggested that an awareness by teachers of the part language plays in learning within the curriculum might provide a means by which qualitative differences in the teaching of content could be identified. The study, therefore, attempted to determine whether there are any differences between teachers who are strongly aware of the role of language in learning and those who are weakly aware in the ways they integrate language and content in their teaching to facilitate student learning. Further, it explored how those differences are realised.
A qualitative approach was adopted for the study. A theoretical framework was developed with which to analyse classroom data on the teaching of science through English. The framework was made up of six dimensions describing the integrated teaching of science and the English of science in an immersion context. It was developed from the literature and was further refined as a result of intensive reading and re-reading of lesson transcripts.
Six teachers of science were studied. A questionnaire was used to place each teacher on a language awareness continuum and four were thus classified as strongly language aware and two as weakly language aware. The teachers were observed and recorded teaching the same science topic. Following the lessons, the students were given a test of science which required that they express their understanding in written English. The teachers and some students were also interviewed.
The science test results revealed that students