HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 21 no. 2 (2012)

The Pains of Becoming Trilingual in China: An Ethnographic Case Study of a Naxi College Student

Wang Ge | Linda Tsung | Ki Wing-wah

Discipline: Social Science



The rapid rise of China as a global socioeconomic power and its policies in relation to language and ethnicities provide unprecedented opportunities for ethnic minority groups to access higher education and develop overall competencies that are crucial for national and ethnic advancement. However, the top-down educational structures, such as language policies, school curriculum, national politics, medium of instruction, and employment prospect, may influence the learning outcome and their self-perceptions as ethnic minority learners in such a diversified country with 56 ethnic groups. This paper, based on an ethnographic case study of a female Naxi college student in Yunnan, reports and discusses the challenges posed by the trilingual education in China and attempts to shed some light on the curriculum development in a multilingual and multicultural context.