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Supporting Internationalisation through Languages and Culture in the Twenty-First-Century University


Mark Orme

‘Internationalisation’ is a key issue impacting on higher education today, but what is actually meant by this term and how does it relate to the notion of ‘global citizenship’, which also features prominently on the higher education agenda? How does the promotion of foreign language learning and intercultural communication help inform the pursuit of internationalisation? And, as the twenty-first century progresses, how are universities meeting the challenges of developing languages-based curricula that reflect the requirements of an increasingly global marketplace?
This book brings together ten interconnected chapters from an international group of scholars who explore how language teaching and learning strategies and cross-cultural understanding support the cause of internationalisation in the modern higher education arena. The book will be of interest to both managers and practitioners who require an understanding of how the promotion of languages and intercultural knowledge informs the cause of internationalisation at strategic and operational levels within contemporary higher education.
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Internationalisation: Teaching Grammars, Teaching Cultures



Life takes different courses in different languages.

—ZINKEN 2008: 52

The topics discussed in this chapter were – naturally – inspired by the title of the conference at which its preliminary version was presented: ‘Supporting internationalisation through languages and culture in the twenty-first-century university’. The opposition of singular and plural forms of the two italicised key words calls for reflection. Do we talk about culture as a general abstract notion, or should we rather be thinking in terms of individual cultures? If we assume – as I think we should – that the word internationalisation is not synonymous with globalisation, then we must choose the second of these two options. Indeed, though often used as synonyms, the two terms carry differing implications, with the former presupposing interculturality, i.e. involving the existence of relations between people who belong to various cultural groups. Thus reflection on internationalisation must be supported by consideration of various languages and various cultures.

Internationalisation – especially within the context of higher education – is generally understood to stand for institutional, or institutionalised, reaction to the increasing globalisation. According to a standard definition, it is the ‘provision of education and learning to international students’, ← 141 | 142 → but – as often stated, for instance, in the Code of Practice and Guidelines for Irish Higher Education Institutions – the providers require that their staff have ‘an understanding of educational and cultural differences, which exist for international students’, and that ‘cross-cultural programmes are developed which are...

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