Chinese-English bilingual education is common practice in Hong Kong schools. In 1997, the Education Department published the paper "Strong Guidelines for Medium of Instruction" to stop the teachers use mixed languages or code-switching in secondary schools. All students entering secondary schools have to undergo the Medium of Instruction Grouping Assessment (MIGA) which is the basis of the assignment to study in Chinese or English-medium schools. The present study of bilingual memory models in local primary school students attempts to provide a theoretical framework for the planning and implementation of bilingual education. It will also contribute towards the development of effective bilingual education in Hong Kong.
For student to communicate and study effectively and efficiently in a second language, a vocabulary of a certain number of words has to be stored up. Cognitive psychologists have four basic models in describing the semantic network of bilinguals. There are namely, Separate Store Model, Common-store Model, Verbal-imagery Dual-code Model and Overlapping Distribution Model. There is no single model that isconsidered to be comprehensive enough in explaining all observed phenomena.
Generally Hong Kong primary school students showed positive attitudes to English learning and English-based teaching. They are fully aware that English is an essential commercial language and a necessary learning tool, which would definitely bring helpful for further studies or future careers. Nevertheless, students also agreed that learning in their mother tongue Chinese or in a mixed code of Chinese and English would reduce their learning difficulties. Primary school students adopted varying strategies in learning Chinese and English. In learning Chinese vocabularies, students only relied on Chinese characters or the Chinese language system without utilizing the English language system. Whereas in learning English vocabularies, students still relied on Chinese resources