Trilingual education models in inner Mongolia autonomous region

Yayuan YI

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


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 study explores the implementation of trilingual education in three primary schools in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR) in the People's Republic of China (PRC). These schools are all Mongolian nationality primary schools located in different places in IMAR that aim 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. The official documents at the state level, including the Constitution, give the minority groups freedom to use and develop their own languages while entitling them to learn Chinese and English. The implementation of these policies varies from place to place. In 2009, Adamson and Feng identified 4 models that are implemented in the minority area in PRC. The four models are namely the accretive model, balanced model, transitional model, and depreciative model. Using this typology as an analytical framework in this thesis, I take three Mongolian nationality primary schools as samples to analyze which model is implemented in each school, how it is implemented, and to find out and categorize major factors influencing trilingual education in IMAR into primary, secondary, and tertiary level factors. The thesis is divided into four major parts: the first part is to give background knowledge of trilingualism, and introduce and review successful studies on trilingual models in western countries such as the USA, Canada, Belgium, Spain, and Italy. This is followed by Chinese minority language policy changes since 1949 and the status of trilingual education in PRC. The second part will introduce methodologies that are adapted in this study. The third part will discuss and describe each school by its context, curriculum, staff profile, teaching and learning activities, and outcomes. Two steps of analyses are done in this study. The first step draws on classroom observations, interviews, and analysis of curriculum documents as well as analyzing each school's trilingual model and how it is implemented within the context of each school. The second step combines these with the outside environment and major societal changes to capture a snapshot of how the school navigates, often conflicting policy streams and social, political, and economic forces. I distinguish the relevant model implemented in each school and their status and roles ascribed to Mongolian, Chinese, and English in pedagogical processes, and look at short-term and long-term outcomes of the teaching activities carried out in these schools. The last part of the thesis will summarize and discuss overall findings from these three schools, and attempt to summarize and categorize these schools' models and factors that impact these models. This last part concludes with a discussion of the facilitators and challenges for the sustainability of trilingual education in such environments. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • ADAMSON, Robert Damian, Supervisor
  • FENG, Anwei, Supervisor, External person
Award date27 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Trilingual education
  • Trilingual education model
  • China
  • Mongolian
  • Chinese
  • English
  • Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region
  • Minority language policy
  • Minority language education
  • Accretive Model
  • Balanced Model
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2014


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