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Sharing Perspectives on English-Medium Instruction

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Edited By Katherine Ackerley, Marta Guarda and Francesca Helm

English is increasingly used as a medium of instruction in European higher education not only in northern countries, but also in the European ‘south’. This volume is fruit of a project which was carried out in a public university based in the north-east of Italy with the aim of delivering professional development for university lecturers engaged in EMI. It begins with an overview of the European context, the Italian context, and some of the arguments against the indiscriminate spread of English as a medium of instruction in higher education. The volume then focuses on the microcontext of the university, giving voice to the various stakeholders in EMI. These include researchers, lecturers, administrative staff, those involved in professional development and students. The central part of the volume presents the views and experiences of twelve EMI lecturers from a range of academic disciplines. In sharing these perspectives on EMI, the volume hopes to stimulate critical dialogue and research on the many issues involved in this aspect of internationalisation in higher education institutions.

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Introduction to this volume (Francesca Helm)

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FRANCESCA HELM

Introduction to this volume

1.   Introduction

The higher education landscape in Europe has been changing rapidly in the last decades, with an increase in student mobility due largely to projects such as the European Commission’s Erasmus, but also ‘globalisation’ processes and the commodification of education. The Bologna process set out to enhance comparability between institutions, facilitating mobility and promoting one of the creeds of Europe, plurilingualism. However, it appears to have fostered an inexorable rise in the use of English as the lingua franca of academia (Jenkins 2014) and a likely decline in plurilingualism (Phillipson 2003). Though perhaps not as widespread as generally perceived (see Wilkinson this volume), English is increasingly used as a medium of instruction in second and third cycle degree courses, and whilst this phenomenon is stabilizing in northern European countries, it is on the rise in the European ‘south’, in countries such as Italy which is a relative newcomer to English-medium instruction (EMI) in Europe1.

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