Imagined identity of ethnic Koreans and its implication for bilingual education in China

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Imagined identity is the way of positioning individuals or being positioned by others in an imagined world, where individuals' cultural identifications interplay with cultural and language practices. This lays the basis for the current research on the construction of imagined memberships by two young ethnic Korean students in China. An analysis of the students' life histories indicates that the negotiation of imagined identities takes place in-between the polarized positions of assimilation and separation, as coined by Berry in the multidimensional categories of acculturation. The process of identity construction suggests that Chinese is an important type of linguistic capital, which to a considerable extent determines an individual's desired membership in the mainstream society, whereas a certain degree of preservation in the Korean language complicates the process of acculturation, through which both Chinese and Korean languages are integratively and instrumentally functional in market-oriented Chinese economy and may open up alternative imagined communities where ethnic Koreans become bilingual users. This research reflects the integrative acculturation, which is illustrative of a selective process and puts forward explicit assumptions about an additive bilingual education in China. Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-353
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012



Gao, F. (2012). Imagined identity of ethnic Koreans and its implication for bilingual education in China. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(3), 343-353. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2011.636146


  • Imagined community
  • Imagined identity
  • Linguistic capital
  • Acculturation
  • Bilingual education
  • Ethnic Koreans