Attitudes toward trilingualism: a survey study of Chinese Mongolian university students

Rining Wei, He Jiang, Mengxia Kong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Trilingualism is a powerful fact of life in many parts of the world, including most autonomous regions inhabited by minority ethnic groups in China. Although much research has been conducted on the language attitudes of stakeholders from minority ethnic groups, the attitudinal object is usually an individual language (e.g. the ethnic language, the national language, or a foreign language). Few empirical studies have investigated ‘trilingualism’ as an attitudinal object. Aiming to narrow this gap, the present study examined the attitudes toward trilingualism of students from four Chinese universities and the influence of selected sociobiographical variables on their attitudes. An exploratory factor analysis showed the ‘trilingualism attitudes’ scale, developed for use in the present study and possibly beyond, to be unidimensional, with sufficient reliability (Cronbach alpha =.83). On this scale, the participants (N = 310) achieved a mean score of 4.52 (out of five), reflecting very favourable attitudes toward trilingualism. Furthermore, regression analyses identified ‘attitudes toward non-ethnic languages (viz. Putonghua and English)’, ‘attitudes toward the ethnic language (viz. Mongolian)’, and gender as statistically significant predictors for attitudes toward trilingualism, respectively explaining 20%, 5.5%, and 1.3% of the trilingualism attitudes variance. Policy and research implications were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-306
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Chinese Mongolians
  • Language attitudes
  • additive trilingualism
  • attitudes toward trilingualism
  • effect size
  • ethnic minorities

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