A comparison of trilingual education policies for ethnic minorities in China

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


In recent decades, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has instigated language policies in education ostensibly designed to foster trilingualism in ethnic minority groups. The policies, which, as this paper shows, vary from region to region, encompass the minority group's home language, Chinese, and English. Based on data arising from interviews, documentary analysis and secondary sources, this paper examines the tensions behind these trilingual education policies by comparing the implementation of policies for three minority groups: the Zhuang, the Uyghur and the Yi people. It identifies some of the facilitators and barriers that affect the achievement of trilingualism, and finds that ethnic minority languages are at a disadvantage compared with Chinese and English. The paper concludes by making some suggestions for enhancing the effectiveness of the trilingualism policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Language policies
  • Trilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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