Language Education in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Local Stakeholders’ Perspectives

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 14 March 2018


Talanoa Room


XU Yang


XU Yang

Xinjiang is an autonomous region located in northwestern China. It is home to 47 ethnic groups. Uyghur is the largest ethnic group, followed by Han, China’s dominant ethnic group. Mandarin Chinese and Uyghur are the most commonly used languages in social and educational domains. In the late 1980s, the Chinese government began to promote language education programs in order to enhance interaction between ethnic groups. A series of polices were issued to promote bilingual education. The current bilingual education policy requires Mandarin Chinese and Uyghur both be used as medium of instruction in Uyghur schools. Since the early 2000s, English language has become increasingly important in language education.

I am interested in the research questions: to which extent has Chinese-Uyghur bilingual and English education polices been implemented in Uyghur secondary schools? With the assumption that there is interplay between language policy and language beliefs and practices, I want to find answers for the question: how does language education impact Uyghur students?

My presentation will focus on my fieldwork trip in Xinjiang last year. I will talk about how I collected data from classroom observations, interviews, and survey questionnaires. In observed classes I examined how languages are used as medium of instruction in Uyghur secondary schools classrooms. I conducted interviews to probe educators’ and students’ interpretations and practices of the bilingual policy in which Chinese and Uyghur should both be used to teach content. The observation and interview data help me understand the current form of language education programs. Survey questionnaires were used to enrich my understanding of Xinjiang regional language education situation and how it impacts Uyghur students.

I will present my up-to-date progress and my reflections on the fieldwork experience in the last part of my presentation.

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