Bilingual education for majority-language students : a study of the factors affecting the initiation and implementation of a municipality-wide Chinese-English bilingual education project in Shanghai

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Bilingual education for majority-language students : a study of the factors affecting the initiation and implementation of a municipality-wide Chinese-English bilingual education project in Shanghai

 

Author: Wei, Rining
Title: Bilingual education for majority-language students : a study of the factors affecting the initiation and implementation of a municipality-wide Chinese-English bilingual education project in Shanghai
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2012
Subject: Education, Bilingual -- China -- Shanghai
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xiii, 323 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2522691
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/6590
Abstract: This is a study about the provision of bilingual education involving a foreign language as a medium of instruction for majority-language students through an in-depth analysis of a municipality-wide Chinese-English bilingual education project in Shanghai, which is officially named the Bilingual Education Experiment in Primary and Secondary Schools of Shanghai 上海市中小学双语教学实验 (henceforth "The Project"). With the initiation of The Project in 2001, Shanghai became the first region in the Chinese mainland to expend regional-government endeavors to provide bilingual education involving English as a medium of instruction for some proportion of students in the public pre-tertiary sector. As of December 2006, 140,000 students at about 300 primary and secondary schools participate in The Project according to best available official statistics. The two foci of this study are to identify the factors that contributed to the initiation of The Project and to explore the possible directions The Project may take in its future development through a reality check on the status quo of the implementation of The Project.
Drawing upon data from questionnaire surveys, documents and interviews, the study finds that four factors, namely (1) the state's subtle approval for The Project, (2) little exposure to English for its effective learning outside school, (3) social demands for English skills in the local social reward system and (4) stakeholders' perceptions related to English learning, contributed to the initiation of The Project. The first factor resulted from the interaction of six sub-factors: the state's expectation for Shanghai to be an international city, the state's pro-Shanghai tendency, Shanghai's foreign-medium instruction history, a group of Shanghai leaders favouring bilingual education, competition with Shanghai's major counterparts, and justifications used by the municipality for The Project. Furthermore, in Guangzhou prior to The Project's initiation, similar approval for a municipality-wide bilingual education project from the state was not found, despite the presence of the other three contributing factors identified in Shanghai. These findings are indicative of the pivotal role of the state's approval, subtle or otherwise, in initiating a bilingual education project as a regional-government endeavour within a danwei system. The reality check concerning the implementation of The Project reveals that all eight areas examined except stakeholders' support for bilingual education provision might constitute potential problem areas: outcomes of The Project's implementation, abilities of teachers to conduct bilingual education, extent of support from policies at various levels, corresponding changes of mechanism of student evaluation, leadership of school administrators, measures to motivate and train teachers, and scientific studies conducted by internal and/or external researchers. Parents' and students' support for bilingual education provision is fairly strong (e.g. about 75% parent respondents supporting The Project) and hence can hardly be characterized as a potential problem area. To minimize the impeding effects of those potential problem areas on The Project's implementation, Shanghai may need to learn experiences from comparable contexts, where CLIL-type bilingual education programmes similar to The Project encounter similar problem areas.

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