chapter  1
15 Pages

China’s language policy for indigenous and minority education

China has experienced rapid changes in political, economic, educational, and lan-

guage policies and practices. These changes not only impact society in general,

but especially its 110 million-strong indigenous and minority population, most

notably in the areas of language of instruction and cultural identity (Beckett &

Postiglione, 2010). Language policies have alternated between what Zhou (2003)

calls pluralistic and integrationist approaches, emphasizing accommodation and

assimilation, respectively (also see Zhou & Sun, 2004). During pluralistic periods

of accommodation, additive, and even elite bilingual policies, initiatives, and

programs are welcomed, while during integrationist periods of assimilation, sub-

tractive, folk bilingual, and monolingual Hanyu (aka Mandarin Chinese or

Putonghua) as the language-of-instruction programs predominate (also see Lam,

2005). We choose to use the term Hanyu because it is a more accurate represen-

tation and it allows for inclusion of literacy Hanzi in the discussion. Other

authors in the volume use various other terms such as Mandarin, Putonghua, and

Chinese, which we respect because they represent their unique perspectives.