Critical perspectives on teaching in the multilingual university (co-editors: Ibrar Bhatt, Mbulungeni Madiba and Khawla Badwan)
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For all societies aiming to play a part in the global economy, language policy in higher education teaching is emerging as an important area of critical inquiry. Language carries much more than communicative value; it carries ideology, symbolic power, and can act as a tool for symbolic violence (Bourdieu, 1991). In the case of global higher education, what has come to be a particular fixation with the English language—specifically, an anglophonic ‘native speaker’ variety— has carried with it dominating constructs of knowledge production within institutional policies and in teaching and research practices. Language ideologies, that is to say, the beliefs and ideas about language which expose relations between people, institutions and the social world, are therefore of key importance in the contemporary higher education landscape.
This special issue of Teaching in Higher Education theorises, critiques and problematises language practices and policies in global higher education and their impact on teaching, with particular focus on theories of multilingualism. These include, for example, (trans)languaging, plurilingualism, linguistic repertoires, and emerging forms of multilingual pedagogic practice. All of these, in inter-connecting ways, impact student trajectories, knowledge production, and issues of epistemic (in)justice in higher education.
As university activity is increasingly tied to a worldwide knowledge economy in a global marketplace, English has secured its place as a global thread that ties knowledge production together. Today, through globalisation and the concomitant neoliberal governance of education, English as an academic lingua franca is used in higher education not only by its so-called ‘native speakers’, but also across the world in inter-cultural and scholarly communication among peoples whose primary language is not English.
Additionally, universities in the Anglophone ‘centre’ now contend with an increased cultural and linguistic diversification of their staff and student populations. The key drivers for this have been the shift to a mass system of higher education and the sector’s internationalisation. Both of these are themselves the results of increased globalisation, defined by Giddens (1990) as the ‘intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities’ (p. 64). The questions raised by these shifts are both complex and diverse, and have brought an aggressive penetration of a global capitalist economy to most parts of the world. Yet, it remains unclear what the wide-ranging impacts are for teaching in sites of tertiary education, including the various modes of transnational education.
Universities in the global South, Eurasia, and South America, for example, are increasingly adopting neoliberal management strategies, research evaluation regimes, and models of English-Medium Instruction (EMI), all of which inherently require a certain set of anglophonic linguistic norms as part of effective governance, teaching and scholarly work. The last two decades in particular have seen a dramatic increase in linguistic diversity in higher education institutions which has led to the emergence of what some have termed the ‘multilingual university’. How a university thereby becomes a site of linguistic contestation with students and staff (academic and administrative) being forced to become proficient and operate in a more ‘powerful’ language, such as English, becomes an issue of central concern in in these contexts.
The development of English as a global academic lingua franca has led to the need for those in higher education – both staff and students – to master the language as part of a ‘quality learning experience’ that is recognised in a global marketplace and international scholarly exchange, popularising EMI in various contexts and the Englishisation of research. But the effectiveness and impact of these policies has not yet been widely investigated. Therefore, for this special issue of Teaching in Higher Education we are looking for papers from across a range of disciplines that focus on conceptions of and questions related to:
Multilingualism (including (trans)languaging and plurilingualism) and language ideologies in different university teaching contexts, and their relationship to institutional culture(s), ‘hidden curricula’, student experience and/or academic development;
How issues of language in higher education teaching are connected to decolonising and diversifying the curriculum, language reclamation, and broader (and deeper) connections with, and critiques of, the role of English in global higher education;
Language ideologies and teaching, and how these relate to ‘expertise’, knowledge production, and epistemic injustice;
The role of indigenous languages in instructional settings, EMI, university language strategies and the politics of recognition, and epistemic linguistic identities in higher education;
The pedagogic implications of linguistic diversity within academic learning environments, including student learning and success, linguistic proficiency indicators within, for example, marking assessment criteria;
Critical connections between access and EMI in teaching, and how these relate to issues of linguistic privilege and the stratification of language and knowledge in multilingual and pluralist societies.
As well as research articles and conceptual pieces, we also welcome shorter articles as part of our ‘Points for Departure’ section of the journal. Accepted articles must be aligned with journal’s aims and scope.
Potential authors are asked to submit their extended abstracts of up to 700 words with a deadline of 5pm (GMT) on Friday 29th April 2021. Abstracts should provide an outline of the proposed paper, including its empirical, theoretical and/or philosophical basis. We actively welcome abstracts which target the themes of the call from across the globe and from a range of disciplines.
Abstracts should be submitted online here. We expect to inform successful authors by the end of May 2021, with a provisional submission date for full papers (via the journal’s online submission system) of Friday 22nd October 2021. The special issue will be published in mid-2022. Accepted articles will be published as Online First in early 2022.
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