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Disciplinary differences in the use of English in higher education: reflections on recent language policy developments
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Physics Education Research, Fysikens didaktik)
2014 (English)In: Higher Education, ISSN 0018-1560, E-ISSN 1573-174X, Vol. 6, no 5, 533-549 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In post-Bologna Europe, there has been a noticeable increase in English medium instruction. In this article we take the case of Sweden as an illustrative example of the wider disciplinary issues involved in changing the teaching language in this way. By 2008 the use of English in Swedish higher education had risen to such an extent that it hadto be regulated at the governmental level and through university language policies. Such policies have attempted to provide generalised pragmatic guidelines for language useacross educational programmes. In this paper we argue that such general policies fail to take into consideration fundamental disciplinary differences and their potential impact onlanguage use. We present a theoretical argument about the knowledge structures of disciplines, relating these to the disciplinary literacy goals of educational programmes. We then illustrate our argument using data from an extensive survey carried out at a major Swedish university. We conclude that the disciplinary variation in the use of English can be seen as a product of different knowledge-making practices and educational goals. This conclusion problematises ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ language policies which only deal with generalfeatures of language use and do not allow for discipline-specific adjustments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 6, no 5, 533-549 p.
Keyword [en]
Disciplinary differences, Disciplinary literacy, Disciplinary knowledge structures, Teaching in English, Language choice, Language policies, Parallel language use
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-207237DOI: 10.1007/s10734-013-9660-6ISI: 000334425500003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-207237DiVA: diva2:647227
Available from: 2013-09-10 Created: 2013-09-10 Last updated: 2014-05-26Bibliographically approved

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Airey, John
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