calls: Perspectives in Mother Tongue Education: Minority Language in Today's Global Society

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Feb 4 15:15:10 UTC 2009

Perspectives in Mother Tongue Education

Date: 21-Feb-2009 - 22-Feb-2009
Location: New York City, NY, USA
Contact: Eveline Yang
Contact Email:
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics

Meeting Description:

Minority Language in Today's Global Society
Trace Foundation Lecture Series
Perspectives in Mother Tongue Education
Saturday 21-Sunday 22 February 2009

In recognition of International Mother Language Day, which was proclaimed in
1999 by UNESCO to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and
the second lecture event will focus on mother language in education. According
to UNESCO, many studies show that instruction in the mother tongue is more
effective for achievement not only for the first language, but also for other
subject areas and for second language learning. Despite these findings, mother
tongue education is still far from being a widely-accepted model, often due to
social, economic, political, or even technological challenges. Why is mother
tongue an issue in education? What does mother tongue education look like in
practice? Is it truly worthwhile in terms of real costs and benefits?

In China, over 120 languages are spoken; of these, 60 are officially recognized
and are protected and supported by legal and policy initiatives. However, one
language, Mandarin Chinese, is essential for participation in the broader
national economic and cultural life. Because of the challenges this situation
poses, China has in recent decades adopted bilingualism as a policy goal. In
terms of education, many different models of bilingual education exist, with
varying ranges of emphasis on the use of mother tongue as the language of
instruction. For minority language communities, what education models are most
effective for ensuring both achievement and multilingualism? What models are in
practice in western regions of China today? What do these models imply for the
vitality of Tibetan language?

These are just some of the questions and issues we will attempt to explore
during this lecture event. On Saturday, February 21st, each speaker
will present
a paper, followed by a discussion with fellow speakers, and a chance to take
questions and comments from the audience. The day will end with a reception. On
Sunday, February 22nd, the speakers will participate in a roundtable discussion
examining the implications for Tibetan and other minority languages in
and achievement in China.


Shawo Dondrup, Project Manager, Trace Foundation Hainan Prefecture
Junior Middle
School Pilot Project, Qinghai Province, P.R. China;

François Grin, Professor of Economics, School of Translation and Interpretation
(ETI), University of Geneva, Switzerland;

Tenzin Norbu Nangsal, Instructor of Modern Tibetan Language, Weatherhead East
Asian Institute, Columbia University, New York;

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Professor Emerita, University of Roskilde, Department of
Language and Culture, Denmark, and Åbo Akademi University, Department of
Education, Vasa, Finland;

Minglang Zhou, Associate Professor and Chair, East Asian Studies Department,
Dickinson College, Pennsylvania.


Registration requested. Complete the registration form and submit it
by email or
fax. You may also call Trace Foundation and register by phone . Seating is
limited and registration is encouraged. Follow this link to the registration


Saturday, February 21st

9:00-10:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Lecture Sessions

5:30-7:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 22nd

9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion Preceded by Breakfast

Contact:, telephone: (212) 367-7380, fax: (212) 367-7383
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