Identity, 'acting interculturally' and aims for bilingual education: An example from China

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In major texts on bilingualism and bilingual education, one often finds such notions as biculturalism, multiculturalism, pluralism or interculturalism that are used interchangeably as concepts - as opposed to monoculturalism or cultural assimilation - to address political and sociocultural dimensions in language learning and teaching. Recently, some scholars have begun to make distinctions between them as processes or outcomes of bilingual education. They compare the terms conceptually and evaluate the implications these concepts might have for bilingual education. The notion of 'acting interculturally', for example, is such an attempt that aims to shed light on the conceptual perplexity between being bicultural and being intercultural and to argue for learning outcomes that are attainable and desirable in bilingual education. On the basis of an overview of conceptual discussions on these notions and an analysis of key guiding ideas and research on bilingual education in China, this paper argues that a conceptual distinction between these terms is not only necessary for advancing theories of bilingualism in general but also crucial for addressing multifaceted issues in bilingual education, including sociopolitical concerns, in a country like China whose language education policies and curricula are determined by the government's political agenda for maintaining an unwavering state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Assimilation
  • Bicultural
  • China
  • Construction
  • Identity
  • Interculturalism
  • Nationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Identity, 'acting interculturally' and aims for bilingual education: An example from China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this