Seminar 5

EMI and the multilingual university in word and deed: Internationalisation, EMI and bi/multilingualism in policy and practice

Departament d’Anglès i Lingüística, Universitat de Lleida
Plaça de Víctor Siurana, 1
25003 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain

Thursday 28th January 2016, 17.00-20.00 & Friday 29th January 2016, 9.00-14.00

An important issue for English-medium instruction (EMI) in non-Anglophone European HE is the gap between northern and southern Europe. The gap between Nordic and Mediterranean countries is substantial and widening, mirroring economic developments in the EU. This seminar will examine the role of language ideologies, linguistic diversity and bi/multilingualism across the Nordic-Mediterranean divide in EMI and the challenges for the internationalization agenda in HE. It takes place in, and will have as the specific object of its focus, a linguistic ecology that is different from universities in English-dominant settings. This is because the University of Lleida, situated in officially bilingual Catalonia, is a multilingual university in both word and deed. Catalan and Spanish are languages in use across a range of registers and contexts and EMI is a reality on selected courses. In effect, a de facto trilingualism is in evidence, even if the linguistic constellations constituting it in different micro contexts are variable. This means that in the Catalonian context, different questions arise around the notion and reality of the multilingual university. Some of these questions have to do with continental European contexts in general, where the presence of English, via EMI, means that English is added to a local language strongly identified with the nation-state. Some questions are specific to southern European contexts, vis-à-vis northern European contexts, in that EMI is far more established in the former than the latter. And some questions can only arise where English is added on to an already existent bilingualism, as is the case with universities in Catalonia. In these three scenarios, it is necessary to define the multilingual university in such a way that it includes the different linguistic ecologies outlined above. A second consideration is to understand the shapers, or structuring structures in Bourdieusian terms, of the multilingual university, from macro-level economic phenomena and events, to language policies, to decisions taken by those responsible for education, to classroom practices. In effect, how do these levels of organisation and activity shape the multilingual university? A related question has to do with what the multilingual university in word and deed is. That is, what are the activities, practices and phenomena constituting it and how do they constitute it? For example, how does student mobility contribute to the lived multilingualism of a university? How about the activities of support staff and academics involved in EMI? Drawing on a combination of theory and research-driven and practice-driven talks and panels, this seminar aims to take on these and other questions to expand our understanding of the multilingual university. Along the way there will be plenty of time for discussion and sharing of ideas.


Maria Pilar Safont-Jordà (Universitat Jaume I): The Multilingual University of a bilingual speech community in Southern Europe. How might EMI affect language attitudes? Some views from a stakeholder’s perspective (Abstract and presentation)

Hartmut Haberland (Roskilde University): Reflections on EMI and the multilingual university in word and deed: Internationalisation, EMI and bi/multilingualism in policy and practice (Abstract and presentation)

Xavier Vila (University of Barcelona): Multilingual universities à la catalane (Abstract and presentation)

Panel 1 – Sònia Mas, Helena Torres & Vasilica Mocanu (Lleida University): The linguistic ecologies of multilingual universities: three PhD students discuss their current research (Abstract)

Panel 2 – Cristian Solé, Romi Pena i Subirà, Marc Medrano & Carmina Nogareda (Lleida University): The challenges of administering and running EMI in a Catalan/ Spanish bilingual university (Abstract)

Panel 3 – The student experience of EMI in the multilingual university (University of Lleida students) (Abstract)

Seminar report

A copy of the seminar report is available at report_seminar-5