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Trilingual education of Chinese university minority students in China: a case study

Liu, J. (2017) Trilingual education of Chinese university minority students in China: a case study. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Discussion of the 55 ethnic minority groups in China is normally associated with socio-political issues. Very little attention is paid to the education and, in particular, the language education of minority groups who account for 8.49% of the country’s total population. The present study sets out to address this gap in the literature by exploring the experiences of staff and students on a trilingual Yi-English-Chinese programme at a Southwestern university for minorities in China. Based on the evaluation frameworks of Spolsky, Green, and Read (1976) and Cenoz (2009), this study explores the overarching question: What is the role of minority languages in higher education in China? An ethnographic case study attempts to answer five main research questions: 1. What are the views towards Yi in the wider society, in the Southwest University for Nationalities (SWUN) and in the College of Yi Studies? 2. What are the main challenges of the trilingual education Yi-English-Chinese (YEC) pathway in the Chinese Minority Languages and Literature programme offered at SWUN? 3. What is the range of competencies in Yi, English and Chinese of the YEC pathway programme? 4. What are the policy makers’, teachers’ and students’ perceptions of and attitudes towards the programme? 5. What has been the impact of the programme on individual students? Qualitative data collected from document analysis, interviews with the architects of the programme, staff and students; focus group discussions with staff and students; classroom observation; and ‘River of Life’ narratives based around critical incidents identified by participants, indicate that many complex yet dynamic contextual factors shape and determine their experiences. Challenges include tensions between course aims and national policies associated with student recruitment; the very wide range of student competences in the programme languages upon arrival and the ways in which they position themselves to these languages; and the absence of appropriate pedagogical responses. The implications of these challenges for the delivery of this programme and any future initiatives in multilingual education at a tertiary level are discussed, together with recommendations on possible ways forward.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Edwards, V. and Li, D.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:72699
Date on Title Page:2016


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