Becoming global citizens through bilingualism: Language policy and Chinese citizenship education in a globalising world

Chen, Yang Guang. 2014. Becoming global citizens through bilingualism: Language policy and Chinese citizenship education in a globalising world. In: Kerry J. Kennedy; Gregory Fairbrother and Zhenzhou Zhao, eds. Citizenship Education in China: Preparing Citizens for the 'Chinese Century'. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 144-156. ISBN 9780415502726 [Book Section]

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Language, culture, identity and citizenship are closely related terms, in which concepts of ‘language’ and ‘citizenship’ have always been linked to notions of nationality in political thought and consequently, they have been embedded in the national linguistic and educational policies. Language policy therefore as a national ‘decision-making about language’ would count by some researchers as linguistic culture (Schiffman, 1998) or others as ‘language ideology’ (Schieffelin, Woolard and Kroskrity, 1998). The chapter is to discuss, with reference to China’s case, how language and citizenship are interconnected through the national language policy, how each language policy as a particular notion of linguistic culture play an important role in construction of national identity which forms the main part of citizenship education. With particular reference to the English education over the last three decades, the chapter presents a study on China’s changing attitudes towards citizenship education from moral oriented civic education to skill centred global citizen education. The study reveals various factors behind this national drive of foreign language learning, identifying as well those issues, emerging from the process, which relate to key concepts such as democracy, justice, rights and responsibilities, identities and diversity that young generations need to understand and also key processes and skills that students need to develop, such as critical thinking and enquiry, advocacy and representation, taking informed and responsible actions. The writing argues that English education seen as a natural, neutral and beneficial transmission has become a catalyst of practical values to facilitate the processes of constructing Chinese citizenship education in a globalizing world. Bilingualism as a linguistic function as well as a cross cultural perspective will enhance intercultural communication between the upheld national identity and international cosmopolitanism, and bridge over the indigenous cultural traditions and the western democratic values. However, it is also arguable that such special weight given to the teaching of English as an only compulsory foreign language taught in China’s most schools and universities is not without its danger because it runs against the basic principle of a cross cultural perspective and practice. Global citizenship demands cultural awareness of commonalities in the interdependent global community as well as cross-national values in terms of linguistic and cultural differences.

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19 Jan 2017 10:26

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03 Mar 2021 15:51


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