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The Impact of English-medium Instruction on Language Ecology in Multilingual University Settings

David Lasagabaster
University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU


Nowadays universities are forced to strive to attract international students, lecturers and researchers, while they also endeavour to improve their position in university rankings and their students’ options to land a job in an increasingly international market. With these objectives in mind, the implementation of English-medium instruction (EMI) programmes has become one of the main courses of action pursued by higher education institutions. The rapid spread of EMI has been driven by the fact that English is regarded as the key to internationalization because its role as the language of learning and teaching at university level is simply taken for granted. However, the implementation of EMI programmes has caused tensions in many universities all over the world due to two main reasons. Firstly, because the overwhelming predominance of English is seen as a risk to the role of the local language(s), while other foreign languages are clearly overlooked. In fact, the preponderance of English is such that the European Union’s objective to foster foreign-language medium instruction in a wide range of languages has turned out to be a far cry from reality. Secondly, because content learning clearly predominates over language learning, which may cause problems not only in the transmission of knowledge but also in the effective implementation of EMI programmes. Against this background, in this presentation I will stand up for the need to foster language ecology, that is, the smooth interaction of languages with each other.

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023