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Title: Trilingual education in the Kam-speaking region of Guizhou : policy, praxis, and perceptions
Author: Finifrock, Jacob
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 1835
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2017
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In recent years, as China has embraced global trends and promoted English-language instruction throughout the country, minority-language dominated regions have been facing the challenge of incorporating three languages into the curriculum. Research has indicated that combining the minority language (L1), the national language (L2), Mandarin, and an international language (L3), English, into one curriculum has taken different forms with varied characteristics depending on the minority language context in question. While the body of literature is growing in this field, primarily in minority language areas that had pre-existing scripts prior to the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, there has been much less research into trilingual education practices in areas where minority language groups did not have pre-existing scripts. This study focuses on one such language group, the Southern Kam of Guizhou province. Adopting an ethnographic multi-case study approach, this research explores the sociolinguistic and historical context of education in the Kam region, and captures the status quo of language use practice and stakeholder attitudes towards the three languages involved in nine-year compulsory education in the current context. This research incorporated a mixed-methods approach, in which data were collected from a cohort of participants with whom the researcher had developed significant relationships. Ethnographic interviews were conducted and were complemented with site visits and classroom observations of participants teaching English. This study found that although the Kam language (L1) remains vital in the current context and at the time of the study was the dominant spoken language of Kam students; it was not used in academic instruction, nor was its use promoted in the classroom setting, though its use outside of the classroom was encouraged for cultural heritage purposes. Instead, Mandarin Chinese, the L2 of Kam students, was the dominant language of education, testing, and school functions. L3, English, was taught as an academic subject through the medium of Mandarin Chinese, but was not used as a medium of instruction in any circumstance. This study found that stakeholder perceptions and attitudes towards Kam, Mandarin, and English existed in a complex dynamic and opinions regarding language in education were largely based on misperceptions of best practices for trilingual education and a lack of awareness of beneficial demonstrated outcomes. Limitations are discussed and potential further studies are recommended. The research concludes by evaluating the findings of this study in light of previous research into additive trilingual education and recommendations are made for improving the current forms of language education in the Kam-speaking region. Most notably, this study calls for education officials in Guizhou to develop policy, in accordance with constitutional freedoms, that creates mplementational space for developing minority language students’ L1 in accordance with research-based principles of additive trilingual education that will in turn improve performance and mastery of L2, Mandarin, and adequately develop L3, English.
Supervisor: Smith, Anne-Marie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available