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Higher Education

, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 561–576 | Cite as

The expansion of English-medium instruction in the Nordic countries: Can top-down university language policies encourage bottom-up disciplinary literacy goals?

  • John Airey
  • Karen M. Lauridsen
  • Anne Räsänen
  • Linus Salö
  • Vera Schwach
Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Language Indexing Higher Education Policy

Abstract

Recently, in the wake of the Bologna Declaration and similar international initiatives, there has been a rapid increase in the number of university courses and programmes taught through the medium of English. Surveys have consistently shown the Nordic countries to be at the forefront of this trend towards English-medium instruction (EMI). In this paper, we discuss the introduction of EMI in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden). We present the educational setting and the EMI debate in each of these countries and summarize relevant research findings. We then make some tentative suggestions for the introduction of EMI in higher education in other countries. In particular, we are interested in university language policies and their relevance for the day-to-day work of faculty. We problematize one-size-fits-all university language policies, suggesting that in order for policies to be seen as relevant they need to be flexible enough to take into account disciplinary differences. In this respect, we make some specific suggestions about the content of university language policies and EMI course syllabuses. Here we recommend that university language policies should encourage the discussion of disciplinary literacy goals and require course syllabuses to detail disciplinary-specific language-learning outcomes.

Keywords

University language policy Bilingualism Disciplinary literacy English-medium instruction Nordic language policy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LanguagesLinnaeus UniversityKalmarSweden
  2. 2.University Physics Education Research Group, Department of Physics and AstronomyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), School of Business and Social SciencesAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.University of Jyväskylä Language CentreJyväskyläFinland
  5. 5.Centre for Research on BilingualismStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  6. 6.The Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and EducationOsloNorway

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