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Minority Education in ChinaBalancing Unity and Diversity in an Era of Critical Pluralism$
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James Leibold and Yangbin Chen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208135

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208135.001.0001

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The Trilingual Trap

The Trilingual Trap

“Imagined” Empowerment among Ethnic Mongols in China

Chapter:
(p.239) 11 The Trilingual Trap
Source:
Minority Education in China
Author(s):

Zhao Zhenzhou

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888208135.003.0012

In her chapter, Zhao Zhenzhou examines a group of ethnically Mongolian university students who are studying outside their autonomous region following their graduation from an experimental trilingual class in middle school. She demonstrates how neo-liberal market reforms in China are slowly squeezing out minority languages, like Mongolian, which are increasingly undervalued within the Chinese linguistic marketplace. The emphasis placed on English by the state and its schools intensifies this problem, as minority students are now required to master three languages to achieve success in the state educational system, and often feel like they cannot keep up. Despite some sense of “imagined empowerment.” Zhao argues that the state has distorted the linguistic marketplace in China by attaching greater symbolic importance to English, despite its still-limited role in Chinese society. She calls for a “diversification of international language learning in China,” which would allow minority languages to be viewed as an asset in today’s increasingly globalized world.

Keywords:   Inner Mongolia, China, Trilingualism, Multilingual education, Mongolian, Minority education, Chinese minorities, ethnicity

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