Is my Chinese good?

by Yanyu Guo

“My Chinese is not good”, a heritage speaker involved in my linguistic study said with some discomfort, after finishing a Chinese reading task of the experiment. The time he spent on the task was almost twice the average, even slower than some non-heritage learners at a beginner level. However, he performed in a native-like way in listening and speaking tasks, in terms of both accuracy and reaction times. Heritage learners seem to have no problem with grammar but struggle with Chinese character recognition. They are bilinguals, but not biliterals.

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Developing multilingual theatre: Polyphonic I and II

by Joel Chalfen

In May this year, the performers of theatre company, Acting Now, with the support of Polygon Arts, regrouped for a revised production of their devised piece, Polyphonic.  First performed in October 2018 by individuals drawn from a dozen linguistic backgrounds, the production was created in the multiple languages spoken in the group alongside a physical, theatrical language.  Less multilingual but very much intercultural, the process of development and performance opened up questions around language dominance and linguistic nuance as well as how theatrical play offers a space in which such issues can become sources of creativity.

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Teaching standard Mandarin pronunciation to Mongolian learners over the past hundred years

by Jiaye Wu

Mandarin Chinese, an emerging key world business language, has become a foreign language option for some UK students in recent decades. Research into state secondary schools in England shows that only 7-8% offered Chinese as a subject in 2005 with this number nearly doubling to 13% in 2015. By 2020, the UK government hopes to have 400,000 students enrolled in Mandarin courses. In China, although Mandarin is the first language of the majority Han population, 106.43 million or 8.41 percent of the total population in China are ethnic minorities who speak other languages. While a high number of these also learn Mandarin as a second language, how different is the Mandarin taught to them compared with that taught to the mother-tongue Han students or to foreign students worldwide? Has this changed over time? In this blog, I will showcase how one particular ethnic minority group in China, the Mongolians, have been taught Mandarin pronunciation over the last hundred years.

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