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The trilingual education for ethnic minorities: field studies of the Tujia, the Uyghurs and the Inner Mongolian

Strand Campus, London

6 Nov
China School

Speaker: Dr Qi Zhang

The trilingual education for ethnic minorities: field studies of the Tujia, the Uyghurs and the Inner Mongolian

The term ‘bilingual education’ is used in various official documents in the People’s Republic of China regarding language policies and practices for minority groups in China. In practice, the reality is trilingual education in this globalizing world: the minority language used in the family environment, Putonghua as the national common language, and English as the widely employed lingua franca around the world.

This study examines how three languages operate for three minority groups – the Tujia, the Uyghur, and the Inner Mongolian – based on three field studies. In comparison with eastern coastal cities in China, the regions where these minorities are found are less urbanized or less developed rural areas. The Tujia and the Mongols have been largely integrated with Han Chinese, whereas the Uyghur show a lower level of integration. Both urban-rural division and ethnolinguistic vitality are taken into account in examining the experience of trilingual education for these three ethnic minorities. The examination of the co-deployment of Putonghua, minority languages, and Englishes focuses on two aspects: medium of instruction and language attitudes. Official documents, especially the Outline of Mid- and Long-term Educational Reforms and Development Plan (2010-2020), are discussed along with local implementation and the experience of teachers and students, to provide a full picture of trilingual education for these ethnic minorities in China.


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Dr Qi Zhang is an assistant professor in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University. She has a BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Sun Yat-sen University in China, an MA in Translation from Durham University and a PhD in Linguistics from Newcastle University. Her recent research interests are primarily in the field of Chinese language education, including applied Chinese linguistics, language attitudes and pedagogy, and Chinese language study among ethnic minorities in China. She has published 16 articles in peer reviewed journals, including six in Q1 journals such as Computers and Composition, Language Learning Journal, and International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.

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