Children from 20 kindergartens across Shanghai are being encouraged to speak Shanghainese rather than Putonghua between classes as part of a pilot program launched by the city’s education bureau this month.
According to local media, the test run will prompt children to speak Shanghainese between classes, during game time, although the classes themselves are still required to be taught in Putonghua, SCMP reports.
While most local parents applauded this new move, which they believe will help preserve the local culture and dialect, many of the city’s immigrants fear that their children will feel alienated and even discriminated against. This seems to have added fuel to the tense relations between Shanghai “hukou” holders — locals with residency registration and enjoying full benefits offered by the city — and immigrants who often claim to have been treated as “second-class citizens”.
“Preserving Shanghai dialect should be encouraged,” said Li Ziran, a local Shanghainese mother with an infant son. “With the large number of immigrants pouring into Shanghai, fewer and fewer people can speak Shanghainese now.”[…]
“This is ugly. Shanghai’s officials are encouraging discrimination,” a microblogger said. “What about the feelings of immigrant children?”
Putonghua, or the standardized Mandarin dialect, remains the official language of the region and in line with Beijing standards, it is used to teach in schools across Shanghai.
Lately, however, movements have been made across the city to help protect the local dialect spoken by over 14 million people.
Earlier this month, Shanghai Metro authorities said that Metro announcements will soon be broadcast in Shanghainese along with Mandarin and English. The trial operation began on lines 12 and 16, which just opened to the public at the end of December last year.
[Image Credit: awgnasuha]