Trilingual education in Inner Mongolia: Signposts for the future of English in Asia?

Bob Adamson, Yi Yayuan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The English language currently enjoys a position of considerable prestige in China. Although English is - for most people in the country - a foreign language, it is used for a variety of professional, academic, legal and social functions (Gil and Adamson 2011). It also occupies an important place in the education system. The status ascribed to English has produced a “mania” for learning the language (Tang 1983; Lam 2005; Adamson 2004), leading to some concerns that the cultural integrity of the state might be endangered (Gil and Adamson 2011). Historically, however, English has enjoyed mixed fortunes. The first encounters, in southern China, were hostile, with only a few Chinese outcasts being permitted to learn the barbarian tongue for the purposes of trade; but by the turn of the twentieth century, even the last emperor was studying English (Adamson 2004). Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, English was either embraced or shunned according to the political weathervane (Ross 1992; Adamson 2004). Overall, English has been assimilated into Chinese society mainly for utilitarian reasons - to serve the state’s goals of economic and cultural development (Adamson 2004). The historical changes in attitudes towards English indicate clearly that there are tensions between the forces of globalization, for which English serves as the major language, and the national interest.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of English in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on language and literature
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317618355
ISBN (Print)9781315752501
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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