ERG SES D 13, Language and Education
Following the establishment of the Bologna process, higher education in Europe has been undergoing a linguistic transition. The Bologna process aims at enhancing attractiveness and competitiveness of higher education institutions in Europe (Prague Communiqué, 2011). To achieve this objective, one of the aspects to be improved is promotion of mobility (for students and staff). Language is a natural obstacle for mobility, in Europe and around the globe. English has been adopted as language of instruction (EMI) in several non-English speaking countries as means of facilitating mobility (Airey & Linder, 2008 in Sweden; Costa & Coleman, 2012 in Italy; van Splunder, 2010 in Belgium; You & You, 2013 in China, and several others in several other countries). Although English as a second language (ESL) is well spread in Europe and worldwide, three main hypothesis suggest bilingual disadvantages in relation to language processing and memory, they are: The cross-linguistic interference hypothesis, which assumes that second language (L2) processing is more difficult because of competition with representations in the first language (L1) (Weber & Cutler, 2004). The weaker-links hypothesis, which understands that accessing linguistic representations in L2 is slower and less accurate than in L1, since the L2 is less frequently used, it has weaker representations (Gollan et al., 2008). And lastly, the resources hypothesis, which assumes that L2 processing taxes working memory capacity more intensively than L1 processing would, consequently, it leaves less time for other capacity-demanding activities. (Gollan et al., 2008)
The adoption of such policy poses a transition on teaching and learning practices, consequentially, students and teaching staffs must cope with teaching/studying in English, a second language (L2) to most of them, while trying to avoid poorer learning (Jensen & Thøgersen, 2011). While watching lectures, students face critical challenges concerning listening in L2 in terms of comprehending and processing listening-based material. The main challenges in listening are: Linguistic, practical, visual, content, cognitive, academic, contextual and knowledge based (de Chazal, 2014). To address the challenges posed by the adoption of EMI, we have found on a previous review of literature study (Kremer & Valcke, 2014) that teaching staffs and students have put into practice didactical or learning strategies, respectively, both inside and outside the classroom. The results from that study unveil an overlap in relation to the strategies adopted by students and teaching staffs, indicating the main concerns of the key actors in the EMI context.
Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2008). Bilingual Scientific Literacy? The Use of English in Swedish University Science Courses. Nordic Journal of English Studies 7 (3). Costa, F., &. Coleman, J. A. (2012). A survey of English-medium instruction in Italian higher education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 16 (1), pp. 3-19. de Chazal, E. (2014). English for Academic Purposes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gollan, T. H., Montoya, R. I., Cera, C., & Sandoval, T. C. (2008). More use almost always means a smaller frequency effect: Aging, bilingualism, and the weaker links hypothesis. Journal of Memory and Language, 5, 58, 787-814. Jensen, C., & Thøgersen, J. (2011). Danish University lecturers’ attitudes towards English as the medium of instruction. Ibérica 22, pp.13-34. Kremer, M; Valcke, M. (2014). TEACHING AND LEARNING IN ENGLISH IN HIGHER EDUCATION: A LITERATURE REVIEW, EDULEARN14 Proceedings, pp. 1430-1441. Prague Communiqué (2001). TOWARDS THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA: Communiqué of the meeting of European Ministers in charge of Higher Education. Retrieved on January 27 2015 from: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/documents/MDC/PRAGUE_COMMUNIQUE.pdf Van Splunder, F. (2010). English as a Medium of Instruction in Flemish Higher Education-Language and Identity Management in a Dutch-Speaking Context (Doctoral dissertation), Lancaster University. Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2004). Lexical competition in non-native spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 50, 1–25. You, X., & You, X. (2013). American content teachers’ literacy brokerage in multilingual university classrooms. Journal of Second Language Writing 22, pp. 260–276.
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