How Far Does “Frame of Reference” Matter to Academic Self-concept in a Bilingual Learning Setting?

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-29
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


The present study aims at investigating the extent of internal/external frame of reference effects of academic achievement on academic self-concept in a bilingual learning environment. A sample of Grade 7 Chinese students (N=222) in a local Hong Kong school are invited to complete an adapted version of the Self-Description Questionnaire after they have received the examination results. Two language subjects, i.e. English, Chinese, and two science subjects, i.e. Math, Integrated Science are included. Results render partial support to the internal/external frame of reference model, such that examination scores of the four school subjects are highly correlated to one another, whereas correlations of their respective self-concepts are much lower; and the achievement of each subject has a positive effect on the corresponding self-concept. However, while English achievement has negative effects on all non-English academic self-concept, no contrast effect has been found in Chinese achievement on any non-Chinese academic self-concept. More interestingly, contrast effect is found between English and Chinese, which are supposedly posited in the same domain-language. As a concluding note, implications of the salience of the English subject are discussed in the contexts of bilingual learners in a globalizing world.

Research Area(s)

  • Academic achievement, Academic self-concept, Frame of reference, Medium of instruction

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.