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Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe

Recent Developments and Challenges

by Clive W. Earls (Volume editor)
Monographs VI, 206 Pages

Summary

This book aims to tackle one of the most controversial and important linguistic, educational and societal debates in contemporary Europe. English is growing rapidly within, and spreading across, an increasing number of areas of society. This development is influenced by actions taken by national and supranational decision-makers, as well as global forces outside the control of any one state or political union. Europe’s founding principle of respecting and fostering diversity and equality of cultures and languages is being affected by the growing role of English across European countries, creating a de facto linguistic hierarchy and consequently a potential cultural hierarchy.
The essays collected here aim to examine existing debates and stimulate further discourse on the nurturing of multilingualism in Europe and the concomitant acquisition of English. By bringing together contributions focusing on multiple European countries and regions by researchers from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds, this volume presents a snapshot of the current relationship between multilingualism and English and explores the challenges generated by this situation.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Plurilingual competence in multilingual Europe: Challenges and opportunities
  • Competing transformative forces and discourses: Multilingualism and English at higher education level in the knowledge economy of a globalizing Ireland
  • English as a lingua franca: Globish, anglo-américain (d’aéroport), ‘le tout anglais’ and other names
  • Changing learner motivations for the study of languages in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their implications for multilingualism in this region
  • English-medium and bilingual instruction programmes in German higher education in the context of internationalization and language policy
  • The emergence of English in the multilingual linguistic landscape of Donostia-San Sebastián
  • Language as gate-keeper of quality? Exploring Austria’s English-only policy for national research funding
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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CLIVE W. EARLS

Introduction

This book1 emanates from an international, interdisciplinary conference held at Maynooth University in June 2015 which aimed to tackle one of the most controversial and potentially impactful debates in contemporary Europe. English is growing rapidly within, and spreading across, an increasing number of societal domains. Such a development is impelled by actions taken by national and supranational decisions-makers, as well as global forces outside the control of any one state or union. Europe’s founding principle of respecting and fostering diversity and equality of cultures and language is being impinged upon by English’s growing role across European countries, creating a de facto linguistic hierarchy and consequently a potential cultural hierarchy. This book, therefore, aims to uncover existing debates and stimulate further discourse on the current state of affairs regarding the acquisition of English and the concomitant nurturing of multilingualism in twenty-first-century Europe. By bringing together contributions focusing on multiple European countries and regions by researchers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, it is envisaged that a current snapshot of some of the facets of the relationship between English and multilingualism can be presented in addition to an exploration of recent developments and challenges that such a situation brings with it.

In the first contribution, ‘Plurilingual competence in multilingual Europe: Challenges and opportunities’, Anne Gallagher considers some of the contradictions inherent in the European Union’s ‘mother tongue plus two’ ambition. She explores the possibilities and dangers presented by a ← 1 | 2 → Europe which is already largely multilingual but where the role of English at the European institutional level is increasingly hegemonic. The issue of foreign-language learning on the European continent is also considered, as well as the challenges facing English-speaking countries in improving their foreign-language capabilities. Finally, a number of ways in which these challenges might be addressed are proposed.

In the second contribution, ‘Competing transformative forces and discourses: Multilingualism and English at higher education level in the knowledge economy of a globalizing Ireland’, Clive W. Earls explores discourses surrounding the mutually reinforcing phenomena of globalization and the knowledge-based economy with respect to current discourses and policies surrounding foreign language learning at higher education level in Ireland, as one of Europe’s only two English-speaking countries. He begins by exploring the notions of a ‘knowledge-economy’, ‘knowledge-society’ and adjacent concepts within the context of globalization, and continues by highlighting the mismatches that exist between policies and practices aiming to embrace and foster a knowledge economy and the noted insufficient number of students pursuing foreign-language (and culture) learning at higher education level in Ireland, and consequently a national skills shortage. In doing so, the contribution aims to make explicit the contradiction inherent in the centralization of globalization and knowledge-economy discourses and the increasingly fragile status of foreign-language (and culture) learning at higher education level in Ireland. This contradiction further highlights the continued tension between maintaining multilingualism in a globalizing English-centric world, particularly in English native-speaking countries like Ireland.

In the third contribution, ‘English as a lingua franca: globish, anglo-américain (d’aéroport), “le tout anglais” and other names’, Kathleen M. Shields studies French public opinion as it relates to English, specifically the terms that French people use to refer to English as a lingua franca. An analysis of the notion of Globish, not only the multiple and ambiguous meanings of this term, but also the constellation of related contextual terms accompanying it, serves to illustrate the diverse, complementary and competing attitudes towards English as a world language in the twenty-first century. The corpus examined consists of French-language blogs from ← 2 | 3 → France over a two-year timespan (2011–2012) where the use of the term globish is studied as it occurs in full blog articles, passing comments, longer posts and in commentaries by blog site visitors. These epilinguistic remarks reveal ways of thinking that are not only conscious, subjective and normative but also unconscious and implicit.

In the fourth contribution, ‘Changing learner motivations for the study of languages in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their implications for multilingualism in this region’, Vera Sheridan and Jennifer Bruen focus on changing learner motivations for the study of languages in addition to the mother tongue(s), referred to here as ‘additional languages’, in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In order to track these changes, the findings of two exploratory, qualitative studies of groups of university students in eastern Germany and school pupils in Hungary are reported. Based on their analysis, they suggest that this region is experiencing a shift towards a more instrumental, utilitarian motivational orientation in the study of additional languages in formal education. They also note that this shift appears to favour the study of English as an International Language at the potential expense of multilingualism in the region as a whole. The material is presented in four sections. In the first, they contextualize language learning in CEE before and after the collapse of communism. In the second, different learner motivational types applicable in the context are presented. This provides a basis for reflecting on the shifts in learner motivational types taking place in CEE in the third section. The focus here is placed on two languages, English and Russian, in Hungary and eastern Germany. Finally, in the fourth section, the implications of the changes in learner motivation for the study of additional languages for the linguistic profile of these countries/regions and for CEE as a whole are discussed.

In the fifth contribution, ‘English-medium and bilingual instruction programmes in German higher education in the context of internationalization and language policy’, Christian Mossmann discusses the background and motivation for introducing English-medium instruction programmes in German higher education and explores the rationale for this increasing trend at institutional and national policy levels. He positions this development in the context of the international competition paradigm, the Bologna Process and the internationalization agenda, focusing on Master-level ← 3 | 4 → programmes. He explores whether the bilingual instruction model (i.e. taught through both English and German) is still prevalent among international degree programmes. For this purpose, he presents a diachronic evaluation of a database of international programmes in German higher education and the languages of instruction they employ. In the context of these findings, the contribution also discusses whether bilingual programmes represent a transitional model, employed by universities with the aim of eventually switching to purely English-medium instruction programmes, or whether they constitute a model that aims to reconcile both the perceived need of drawing increasingly on English as a medium of instruction and the intent to retain an element of German as a language of instruction.

In the sixth contribution, ‘The emergence of English in the multilingual linguistic landscape of Donostia-San Sebastián’, Patxi Laskurain Ibarluzea studies the emergence of English in the multilingual linguistic landscape in the northern Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastián, an eminently touristic and cosmopolitan city in the Spanish Basque Country where Spanish and Basque (a minority language) are spoken. He outlines that, even though traditionally these two languages have competed for a presence on language signs, English has become ever more present in the linguistic landscape of the city during the last decade. He analyses the use of English as an international language as compared to Spanish, Basque and French on language signs from government and institutional sources versus those from the private sector. His findings indicate that there are significant differences between the public and the private sphere in their motivation behind the use of English.

In the final contribution, ‘Language as gate-keeper of quality? Exploring Austria’s English-only policy for national research funding’, Jean E. Conacher explores emerging debates surrounding the penetration of English into the infrastructural realms of national research funding against the shifting landscape of educational practice and research dissemination. In particular, she examines the policies of Austria’s Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung which – under the auspices of quality control and enhancement – recently extended its exclusive acceptance of English-only funding applications within the natural sciences to ← 4 | 5 → include the humanities. The contribution investigates how the academic community in Austria has attempted to resist such developments and questions to what extent ensuing debates reveal genuine concerns for issues of research quality or point rather to underlying tensions in the language ideology driving national research policy and practice.

The snapshot of the relationship between multilingualism and English in contemporary Europe presented in this volume is particularly timely as it relates to a period immediately prior to what is arguably one of the most seismic developments in recent European history: the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union following the Brexit referendum. The ramifications of this decision by the British people are likely to be far-reaching and will surely impact on the current privileged position that the English language enjoys within the European Union's member states and organs. Within a post-Brexit European Union, where English native speakers account for less than 1 per cent of the total population (that is, the population of the Republic of Ireland), a new linguistic reality is likely to take shape as the position of English in EU organs is increasingly questioned in light of the new political reality. Equally, the perception of English within individual member states is also likely to be transformed, as Brexit is viewed from divergent points of view which will have an impact on EU citizens' attitudes towards the English language. Certainly, the relationship between multilingualism and English will evolve significantly within this new sociolinguistic framework, and will warrant intensive investigation. ← 5 | 6 →


1 The editor, Clive W. Earls, would like to acknowledge, and express his sincere gratitude to, the Maynooth University Publication Fund which provided partial funding supporting the publication of this volume.

Details

Pages
VI, 206
ISBN (PDF)
9781787071131
ISBN (ePUB)
9781787071148
ISBN (MOBI)
9781787071155
ISBN (Softcover)
9783034322218
Language
English
Publication date
2016 (August)
Tags
Global English Multilingualism Language policy Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2016. VI, 206 pp., 8 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Clive W. Earls (Volume editor)

Clive W. Earls is Lecturer in German and Applied Linguistics in the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Maynooth University. He teaches and publishes primarily on applied linguistics, intercultural communication, language policy and planning and higher education policy, particularly regarding the teaching of foreign languages. He is the author of Evolving Agendas in European English-Medium Higher Education: Inter-culturality, Multilingualism and Language Policy (2016).

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Title: Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe