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Clapper talk, calligraphy changing bilingual education in Xinjiang
2017-10-09 source:Xinhua
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Batur Mamut was moved to tears while watching his daughter's "clapper talk" performance in fluent Putonghua (standard Chinese).

"I am just extremely happy to see my child speaking Putonghua so well," said the 51-year-old taxi driver from Shufu County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Most villagers his age in Kashgar's remote rural areas only speak Uygur language, which has been a common barrier for those who seek jobs in eastern cities.

However, among the younger generation that situation is quickly changing, as children are becoming bilingual from as early as kindergarten age.

Batur Mamut's daughter Nursebi Batur is a fourth grader at the central primary school in Tokkuzak Township.

The story she performed in clapper talk, a traditional Chinese form of narrative singing accompanied by a pair of clappers, was about the changes that have taken place in the school since 2014.

In April 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the school and told teachers that it is important to facilitate bilingual education for children from China's ethnic minority groups.

If they can master standard Chinese, it will be easier for them to find jobs, and more importantly, contribute to national unity, according to Xi.

Following the president's instruction, the school and education authorities have taken many steps to boost the children's bilingual abilities.

More and more courses are being taught by bilingual teachers and new styles of learning are being explored, including clapper talk, which requires performers use bamboo clappers to mark the beats.

The folk art is not easy, but the students were very interested in practicing spoken Putonghua with it, said Yao Hongyu, secretary of the school's Party branch.

The rhymed Putonghua lyrics made it easy to remember and the Uygur students are born with a natural sense of rhythm to become quick learners, according to Yao.

The school has also built a dedicated calligraphy classroom decorated with traditional Chinese elements.