Global citizenship and university language policy: models for supporting and developing bilingualism within higher education

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Borland, Helen (2003) Global citizenship and university language policy: models for supporting and developing bilingualism within higher education. In: UNESCO Conference on Intercultural Education, 15-18 June 2003, Jyväskylä, Finland. (Unpublished)


The discourses of intercultural and international education in higher education in societies where English is the dominant and/or official language (e.g., Australia, USA, United Kingdom) and/or the designated language of higher education (e.g., in many other post-colonial contexts) tend to minimise or present as neutral and uncontroversial the issue of language of instruction in relation to diversity and difference within the student body and in the community beyond the university. Whilst the role of higher education in fostering intercultural sensitivity and in developing intercultural understanding is commonly recognized through institutional equity and social justice policies and in some areas of the curriculum (e.g., intercultural communication subjects, 'internationalization' of the curriculum, etc.), this is primarily envisaged to occur through and in the medium of English. Such a position reflects the hegemonic status of English internationally and the linguocentric ideology that pervades the English speaking world today. In this paper I will argue that a genuine and fully intercultural education for global citizenship is one that must acknowledge the centrality of language to culture and cultural diversity. It is primarily through the learning of more than one language and the use of each language in its sociocultural contexts that a person comes to a fully developed understanding of what it is to be part of another culture, and to develop intercultural competence. In this context, a critical area for policy development for universities today is language policy. It is argued that such policy needs to acknowledge and respond to a number of competing priorities, including linguistic human rights and linguistic diversity within the student body, the existence of global and regional lingua francas and of state/national language policies, and must be geared to producing graduates with core attributes that can enhance employability, such as highly developed oral and written communication skills relevant to their discipline/s of study. Drawing on a range of cases from universities worldwide I will define some models currently operating for incorporating the development of bilingualism and multilingualism within higher education, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these in relation to the goal of achieving bilinguality within culturally inclusive higher education.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Work-Based Education Research Centre (WERC)
Historical > RFCD Classification > 330000 Education
Historical > RFCD Classification > 420000 Language and Culture
Keywords language policy, higher education, intercultural competence, bilingualism
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