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Title: Bi/Multilingual Education, Translation, and Social Mobility in Xinjiang, China
Author(s): Li, Saihong
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Editor(s): Shei, Chris
McLellan Zikpi, Monica E
Chao, Der-Lin
Sponsor: The British Academy
Citation: Li S (2019) Bi/Multilingual Education, Translation, and Social Mobility in Xinjiang, China. In: Shei C, McLellan Zikpi ME & Chao D (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Chinese Language Teaching. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 593-612.
Keywords: bilingual education, translation, social mobility, ethinicities, Xinjiang
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: This chapter – drawing on fieldwork conducted through questionnaires, interviews and participant observation in the form of a triangulation method – references Antonio Gramsci’s writings on language and political theory (also known as glottopolitical theory) as an optic through which to analyse bilingual education, translation and social mobility in Xinjiang, China. By adhering to the practices and procedures governing empirical investigation, it evaluates the effects of China’s bi/multilingual language policy and discusses its implications within education. The chapter’s objectives are threefold: 1) to evaluate current forms of bilingual education in Xinjiang within the curriculum as a whole, and to assess the importance of using specific languages and translation; 2) to assess the attitudes of different ethnic groups towards current bi/multilingual education policy and its evolution in Xinjiang; and 3) to develop proposals concerning the preservation of minority culture and languages while also diffusing the benefits of Mandarin and English for career enhancement, without exacerbating the tensions that exist between unity and diversity. The research shows that an optimal education policy would take into consideration the needs of minorities. To provide equal opportunities for all, whatever their first language, is to contribute to social harmony and economic progress at both a regional and national level. It is argued that aspects of Gramsci’s glottopolitical writings on language and cultural identity reflect the guiding principles of an openness to linguistic diversity and a balanced language policy in terms of ‘plurality within unity’ in China.
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