[MLE] MLE International Conference in China; 25-28 October 2011

Dear MLE friends,
It seems to be conference season! This time it is our northern neighbour China hosting a conference on “Zero Barrier Bilingual Education” . It will be their first International Conference on MLE. The dates: 25-28 October 2011 and the venue: Jinghong City, Xishuangbana Prefecture, Yunnan, China .The hosts for the conference comprise of the Yunnan Provincial Ministry of Education, Yunnan Ethnic Affairs Commission and SIL East Asia.
Over the two-day conference, papers will be presented and discussion groups organized to discuss current world trends in bilingual education and pedagogy, results of practical experiments, development of approaches to bilingual instruction and other related academic issues, in order to better serve minority groups.
More details are given below. It would be good if some from India can attend as China and India have so many similarities.

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group

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Recommended: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/

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International conference on “Zero Barrier Bilingual Education” .


Even though bilingual and multilingual education has been promoted worldwide, and is
being implemented in widespread areas of the world, it still remains in the exploration
and experimental stage for China. How does one promote and develop a successful model
of bilingual education so as to strengthen and improve the quality of bilingual education;
coordinate with the local government’s education policy and formalize bilingual education
into a system? This is the goal of all who are involved in education, bilingual education
experts, and relevant government departments of all nations with multilingual
The characteristics of Zero-Barrier Multilingual Education are as follows:
1. Teaching the linguistic minority students in their mother tongue in order to
overcome the language bottleneck when they enter the national language
education system.
2. Applying modern teaching approaches to instruct kindergarten and primary
school students to improve learning.


To be gainfully employed in any country, one must be able to speak the language of the
land. Due to their inadequacy in the Chinese language, many ethno-linguistic minorities
find it hard to compete for economic opportunities and advancement in China. Chinese
educational officials recognize that multilingual education (MLE) is the most effective way
to educate children in those communities where Chinese is not the mother tongue of the
School textbooks are written for children who have oral proficiency in Chinese.
Unfortunately, children in the minority communities do not acquire the required
proficiency before they go to primary school as they usually do not speak Chinese at home.
As a result, they have difficulty learning from these Chinese textbooks especially during
the first grade.
There is a common assumption held by both the teachers and the families, that if the
children spend more time learning Chinese, they can and will learn it. This assumption is
valid for Han Chinese children but not valid for minority children. Minority children have
no foundation in the Chinese language which they can build on. As a result of the
language barrier, minority children find school boring and difficult. This explains why
they do not do well in examinations. As a result of their poor examination scores, many
minority children are classified as non-performing students, and some of them will drop
out over time.

Conference Purpose:

When the mother-tongue is not used in educating the children, learning becomes very
difficult. Only when the students understand and apply what they have learned in the
arts and sciences into their daily lives will they excel in education. Language is not just a
mean of communication; it is also a vehicle for economic growth and societal development.
Language plays an important part in creating a harmonious society. “Mother-tongue
first” education is internationally recognized as a necessity for children in ethno-linguistic
minority communities.
The conference provides a forum to enhance understanding, inspire meaningful
interaction, and increase discussion about the issues of “mother-tongue first” education in
The purpose of this conference is to become a platform of discussion to find ways to fulfill
the following goals:
1. Strengthen the understanding of the necessity of educating children, who live in
multilingual environments, in their mother-tongue.
2. Provide input to the government’s education policy makers: to improve the level
and quality of fundamental education; to promote creative thinking and scientific
understanding and, through dialogue with international education experts, to
share ideas and experience.
3. Strategize efficient measures to improve education in a developing nation, by
implementing plans and policies that fit the local context; remove educational
language barriers to improve education for minority children; enhance mandatory
education quality levels for all children, and improve the level of education of
populations in undeveloped areas.

Conference Program Elements:

Plenary Sessions:

The conference features four plenary speakers who will speak on the theme of
“mother-tongue first” education. There will be opportunities for questions and answers
from the conference participants.

Hands on sessions:

The attendees will have opportunity to observe first hand a Zero Barrier MLE session in
the rural village setting.

Panel Discussion session:

The conference also features a panel discussion on MLE in China. This panel discussion
will feature papers and presentations selected in advance from among all conference
participants. The papers will highlight relevant local, national or comparative research
and practices related to the conference theme.

Target Audience:

• National and provincial government officials responsible for developing policies related
to Zero Barrier MLE.
• National and provincial education departments responsible for implementing policies
on bilingual education.
• Non-governmental organizations, academicians, and intergovernmental and
multilateral agencies involved in research, advocacy or program implementation of
bilingual education.
If you are a researcher in bilingual education, have extensive teaching experience or have
completed practical experimentations in bilingual education, we would like for you to
submit papers to be read, for purposes of dialogue and mutual learning during this

Paper Submission

The attendance size of this conference is 250-300 people. Papers of merit will be selected
for publication. In principle, each participant is to submit a paper on bilingual education.
The length of the paper should be around 5000 words or so, and the abstract around 800
The abstract can be written in English, limited to one A4 paper with adequate margins; it
should indicate the author's name, department, e-mail and mailing address, description of
self and work, and a recent photograph. Please send by the August 30, 2011, the abstract
in Word document format, to elizabeth_lee@sil.org.

Conference Fees

Registration fees of US$200 will cover the following items only: transportation cost during
conference which includes pick-up from and drop-off to the local airport, the conference kit,
access to plenary, panel sessions, hands-on observation sessions, morning and afternoon
refreshments, and meals for the three days of the conference.
Please transfer the registration fee by August 15, 2011 to the following account:
SIL East Asia
Bank of China, Yunnan Branch, 515 Beijing Road, Kunming, Yunnan, China
Swift Code: BKCHCNBJ640
USD Account:
135 600 420 334
After you have made the transfer, please contact the conference organizer as soon as
possible, to verify the information.

Booking of Food and Lodgings

Please fill in your details in the table below, and fax or email to the conference organizers.
Please indicate any special dietary requirements, so that arrangements can be made in
Contact Details
Passport No.

Conference Organizers Contact Information

1. Elizabeth Lee (mobile no. +86-15368895019; elizabeth_lee@sil.org)
2. Diana Soh (mobile no. +86-13658854021; diana_soh@sil.org)
Office Phone: +86-871-4184985,Fax: +86-871-4190157

--  Education Consultant; SIL Intl, Mobile: 09868891282 Note: Will be on study leave with reduced e-mail contact from August till November