First TGAP Forum | Québec 2012

Language Policy and Practice in Tibet


The inagural Tibet Governance and Practice Forum on Language Policy and Practice Forum was held in Montreal, Canada, from May 19-23, 2012. Hosted by McGill University and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), the five-day international conference and workshop convened scholars and researchers from North America, Europe and the People’s Republic of China in a cross-disciplinary discussion of the challenges of language policy and practice in the Tibetan region.


Drawing on a diverse range of fields including linguistics, socio-linguistics, education, law, sociology, linguistic anthropology and political science, the global forum examined the issue of Tibetan language policy and practice in light of the growing sense of public discontent with language policy within the region since 2010. The academic conference presented new data, research and comparative scholarship that addressed analytical and empirical issues pertaining to language use in the Tibetan region (see Research Briefing). 


Key research findings included:

  • Legal, policy and regulatory frameworks for Tibetan language protection have weakened since the mid-1990s.
  • Domains of use for the Tibetan language have diminished across all administrative, commercial and cultural fields.
  • Causal relationship between the weakening of Tibetan language protection in policy and practice, and the recent rise in discontent within the Tibetan population.
  • Mother tongue bilingual education is vital for ensuring quality education and high achievement for native Tibetan speakers.