From Theory to Practice- Selected papers from the 2013 ICLHE Conference
Edited By Robert Wilkinson and Mary Louise Walsh
Linguistic competence in undergraduate science teaching: A student perspective
Abstract1 This paper addresses the question of how undergraduate students negotiate linguistic competence of their university lecturers following the switch of the classroom medium of instruction from German to English. Emphasising the concept of intersubjectivity in classroom communities of practice (Smit, 2010; generally in Gillespie & Cornish, 2010; Marková, 2003), this paper aims at revealing interpretative repertoires (Wetherell & Potter, 1988; Wetherell, 1998) underlying the students’ display of the lecturers’ communicative behaviour. Discussing selected scenes from two science lectures with undergraduate students, the paper shows that the successful implementation of English-medium instruction crucially depends on the lecturers’ ability to negotiate communicative-didactic rather than linguistic competence.
Keywords: English-medium instruction (EMI); natural sciences; linguistic competence; communicative-didactic competence; interpretative repertoires; stimulated recall
Research on English-medium instruction (henceforth EMI) in higher education has variously maintained that the change of language presents a serious challenge to all social actors involved (cf., recently, Doiz, Lasagabaster, & Sierra, 2013). Institutions of higher education respond to the challenge by offering professional development opportunities for lecturers that are to ensure the continued quality of their study programmes. One common set of measures, beside immediate language support, includes English language training for lecturers who feel inadequately prepared for the task. In practice, lecturers are encouraged to take ← 291 | 292 → special-purposes language courses or to arrange short-term stays in English-speaking universities. While English language training is undoubtedly a valuable preparation for the task at hand, this paper argues that institutions tend...
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