Contrasting attitudes towards a bilingual institutional language policy under internationalization*

As a reflection of an increasingly multilingual landscape in the past few decades, many universities have been adopting an international language, English, as the language of instruction, in addition to or even in place of the local or national language, whether or not guided by an explicit language policy. The language of instruction may influence whether support is provided for programmes given through the chosen language, thus whether explicit language for specific purposes (LSP) teaching is provided or not. This suggests scope for an institutional language policy to guide the nature and manner of learning and teaching. This paper reports a study into the attitudes of key actors towards bilingualism, internationalization and language policy during a period when an explicit language policy was being considered at a Dutch university. The study identifies a divergence between individual attitudes and institutional practice, especially in the case of bilingualism, less so in the case of internationalization. It also unearths a marked resistance to language policy that is imposed top-down. A language policy that emerges with bottom-up agreement and does not impose specific conditions may lead to opportunities for explicit LSP teaching embedded within disciplines. An explicit language policy may be a pragmatic tool for an international university, but it is not a necessary one.

* Wilkinson, R. (2014). Contrasting attitudes towards a bilingual language policy under internationalization. Fachsprache, XXXVI(1-2), 11-30.

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