Life in a trilingual school: Perspective from Inner Mongolia

Yayuan YI, Robert Damian ADAMSON

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

2 Citations (Scopus)


Multilingualism is a growing trend around the world as local languages are complemented by national, regional and international languages in education systems as policy makers respond to the forces and impacts of globalization. This chapter explores the implementation of trilingual education in a primary school in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The school aims to maintain the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Mongolians—one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in the PRC—while also preparing the students to participate in the social, economic and political activities of the country through strong propagation of standard Chinese. The third language is English, viewed by policy makers as an important tool to enable the PRC to play a prominent role in international affairs. We investigate the implementation of the policy within the context of major societal change, drawing on classroom observations, interviews and analysis of curriculum documents to capture a snapshot of how the school navigates often conflicting policy streams and social, political and economic forces. We distinguish the relevant status and roles ascribed to Mongolian, Chinese and English in pedagogical processes and look at some of the learning outcomes. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the facilitators and challenges for the sustainability of trilingual education in such environments. Copyright © 2017 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife in schools and classrooms: Past, present and future
EditorsRupert MACLEAN
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Singapore
ISBN (Print)9789811036521, 9789811036545
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Yi, Y., & Adamson, B. (2017). Life in a trilingual school: Perspective from Inner Mongolia. In R. Maclean (Ed.), Life in schools and classrooms: Past, present and future (pp. 323-335). Singapore: Springer Singapore.


  • Trilingual education
  • China
  • Mongolian
  • Chinese
  • English
  • Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region
  • Language policy
  • Language education


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