ETHNIC BARRIERS TO LEARNING CHINESE IN CHINA

M. Egorova, S. Barov, T. Vavichkina, J. Vlasova

Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
China is a very multicultural and multiethnic country with a huge number of languages and dialects which are spoken all over the country. In the 1950s and early 1960s there were organized special scientific groups of linguists who officially recognized 56 “nationalities” (ethnic groups) in mainland China, including the Han majority and 55 minority groups. There are many variations among the ethnic minorities in China with their own language tradition and they hope to protect and preserve their own languages and cultural heritage.For many ethnic minorities Chinese is not even the second language, but it could be their third or even the fourth language. As the first one is the language of their ethnic group which is usually spoken in family, the second one turns to be the language of the village or the hometown, the third one of the province and Chinese is only the fourth one. Though it is taught from the kindergarten and up to the university through all the system of education proposed and managed by the state-power leaded by Chinese Communist Party it is more difficult for ethnic minorities to learn it well for many reasons.So, China has a bilingual education policy and Mandarin is the second or foreign language for children. In such an educational system it very challenging for ethnic minorities to learn well enough Chinese to study other subjects in it and to find a good job after graduating.Thus, the problem of ethnic barriers to learning Chinese in mainland China and the problem of teaching Chinese for ethnic minorities within the country which is co-correspondent attracts a wide range of attention of scholars and observers both in China and abroad.