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ERIC Number: EJ1216329
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0143-4632
'A Plus for Our Students': The Construction of Mandarin Chinese as an Elite Language in an International School in Barcelona
Codó, Eva; Sunyol, Andrea
Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, v40 n5 p436-452 2019
Mandarin Chinese is the fastest growing foreign language by number of students in the world [Ding and Saunders 2006. "Talking up China: An Analysis of China's Rising Cultural Power and Global Promotion of the Chinese Language." "East Asia" 23 (2): 3-33], but little is known about how it is taking hold in compulsory education in different countries. This paper examines the institutionalisation of Mandarin in an elite school located near Barcelona, Spain, which, due to stagnant enrolment rates, was rebranded as 'international' in 2008. Data on the evolution and shifting legitimation of the Chinese programme was gathered through a two-year critical sociolinguistic ethnography. It included observations, visual materials, institutional discourses, questionnaire data and in-depth interviews with key social actors. The results show that Chinese has been highly instrumental for the process of re-elitisation of the school through multilingualisation (and internationalisation), because it allows institutional agents to mobilise both the discourse of cognitive/attitudinal benefits and forms of linguistic capitalisation "avant-la-lettre." Yet, among most families and students, there is sharp awareness of the speculative nature of Chinese as capital whose returns in the present can only be guaranteed in the logic of accumulation and as providing an index of students' embodiment of neoliberal subjectivities. For the school, Chinese symbolises its zeal to constantly search for new sources of (potential) distinction and academic excellence.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Spain (Barcelona)