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Volume 4 Number 3, Autumn 2007, Pages 1-240   

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A Tale of Two Curricula

    Anne Ma

The English language curriculum (ELC) of Hong Kong and that of Shanghai have undergone drastic changes in the last decade. This paper compares the primary ELC of the two cities in the light of their reforms which started in the early 1990s. The comparison focuses on the aims and objectives of the curricula which are often the first level of discussion and analysis from which other corresponding components of the curriculum fall in place and educational decisions made. The comparison is analyzed using the conceptual framework of educational value systems (Clark 1987; Morris 1995; Skilbeck, 1982). The findings show that the Hong Kong ELC is more inclined towards the personally oriented values of "Progressivism" while that of Shanghai is more inclined towards the society oriented educational values of "Reconstructionism". A review of the prevalent politico-economic-socio contexts of the two cities shows that the aims of the two ELC have their different extent of compatibility with the contexts in which they were conceived and enacted. The paper argues that there is a need for the curriculum development in both cities to be conducted in a more "teacher-centred" way while addressing the needs of the society at large.

Keywords: curriculum development, learning English as a second/ foreign language