Ethnic minorities and trilingual education policies

Robert Damian ADAMSON, Anwei FENG, Quanguo LIU, Qian LI

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This chapter examines the consequences of language policies in education that foster trilingualism in primary schools in ethnic minority regions of China. Based on data from a national project, the chapter explores the different policy streams that have, by accident rather than design, produced this expectation and identifies four models of trilingual education that have emerged somewhat haphazardly as a response to these policies. It argues that Chinese education policymakers could develop a more coherent plan that balances students’ needs for identification with their ethnic culture; for integration into the social, economic, and political life of the nation; and for engagement with the opportunities of internationalization. With such a plan, trilingual education could become a force for social justice with the potential to reduce marginalization by giving ethnic minority groups the means to sustain and improve their social, economic, and political status. Copyright © 2013 Oxford University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese social policy in a time of transition
EditorsDouglas BESHAROV, Karen BAEHLER
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199990313
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Adamson, B., Feng, A., Liu, Q., & Li, Q. (2013). Ethnic minorities and trilingual education policies. In D. J. Besharov, & K. Baehler (Eds.), Chinese social policy in a time of transition (pp. 180-195). New York: Oxford University Press.


  • Language policy
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Trilingualism
  • Marginalization


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