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Research project

“Without English this is just not possible…”: studies of language policy and practice in international universities from Europe and Asia

Project overview

Over the last decade there has been a huge increase in the internationalisation of higher education institutes (HEI) with growing numbers of international students in many countries, especially Anglophone settings, and the expansion in English medium instruction (EMI) programmes in non-Anglophone settings. Given the multilingual landscape of such HEIs linguistic issues are clearly of prominence. Therefore, this study focused on (in order of importance):
a. The role English performs in these HEIs, including its relationship to other languages.
b. Participants’ language beliefs, attitudes and ideology towards and about English.
c. Language policies (formal and informal) and the impact of these on linguistic practices.
d. Comparisons between UK, European and Asian EMI programmes.
Three institutions in the UK, Austria and Thailand were investigated using student questionnaires, interviews with lecturers and students, observations, linguistic landscaping and documentary analysis. The findings demonstrated multilingualism present at all sites but this was recognised to different degrees, with the UK being the most monolingual in its orientation. The role of English was also conceived differently, being seen only as a ‘tool’ for learning content knowledge in Austria but as both a ‘tool’ and ‘target’ of learning in itself in the UK and Thailand. All three sites demonstrated a complex range of beliefs and attitudes towards English with it viewed as a disciplinary language, as a variety of language often in terms of standard or non-standard, and as a means of group communication. A gap was revealed between the standard/native speaker orientation of language policies and the more open and multilingual linguistic practices. The role of self-perceived English proficiency was also highlighted as a key factor in students’ experiences.


Lead researcher

Dr Will Baker

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • English as a lingua franca and Global Englishes
  • Intercultural and Transcultural communication
  • English as a medium of instruction and education
Connect with Will

Research outputs