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Becoming Bilingual in School and Home in Tibetan Areas of China: Stories of Struggle

Yi, Xilamucuo (2015) Becoming Bilingual in School and Home in Tibetan Areas of China: Stories of Struggle. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This study analyses the stories of five Tibetan individual journeys of becoming bilingual in the Tibetan areas of China at four different points in time from 1950 to the present. The data consists of the narratives of their bilingual experiences. They talked about their experiences of using language in family, in village and in school. Their narratives show that their opportunities to develop bilingualism were intimately linked with historical and political events in the wider layers of experiences, which reveals the complexity of bilingualism. Moreover, my five participants struggled to become bilingual. They struggled because they wanted to keep two languages in their lives. It illustrates their relationship with society. They are Tibetans, L1 is not the official language of their country, but it is the tie with their ethnicity. It addresses bilingualism linked with the formation of identity. A narrative method within an ethnographic research approach was used in this research. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory was used to explain how the layers of experiences fundamentally influenced the development of bilingualism. Holland et al.’s concept of history in person was used to explain why an individual’s formation of identity is affected by their experience of developing bilingualism. Furthermore, the view of language as repertoire also used to explain why Tibetans need two languages in their lives, thus emphasising the importance of understanding bilingualism from a social-cultural perspective. These three theoretical frames together provide tools to better understand the complexity of bilingualism. This study found that my five participants’ opportunities to become bilingual were heavily affected by the transition of society and change of policies towards the Tibetan language. Moreover, their stories show that bilingualism is a social phenomenon, which happened because my five participants interacted with two languages in their daily life. Therefore we need to see bilingualism from a social-cultural perspective and understand the complexity of bilingualism for education policy and practice. In addition, this study found that my five participants’ experiences of developing bilingualism led the path of developing identity. It shows that language played a very important role in the formation of identity for my five participants. Moreover, their experiences demonstrate the relationship between identity and education; education may either facilitate or impede an individual’s identity development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Complexity of Bilingualism Narrative Life history interview
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.666600
Depositing User: Ms Xilamucuo Yi
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2015 13:45
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9744

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