Multilingual education in Macao

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24 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the current use of the three written languages (Chinese, Portuguese and English) and the four spoken languages (Chinese–Cantonese, Chinese–Putonghua, Portuguese and English) in Macao, a former Portuguese colony (1557–1999) which is now a Special Administrative Region of China. Chinese and Portuguese are official languages, and the former plays an increasingly important role in the Macao education system. This paper also reports on the results of a questionnaire-based study on Macao students’ language use, language attitudes and language preferences, which revealed their preference of multilingual education and positive attitudes towards Cantonese, Putonghua and English. When asked their views on the changes of language use in post-colonial Macao, most surveyed students thought that Putonghua and English were more frequently used than before. As the students were less satisfied with their communication skills in English, the challenge in the future is to enhance students’ communicative competence to meet the needs of the economic boom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-425
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Language attitudes
  • Language learning
  • Language status
  • Multilingualism
  • School language programmes


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