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Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education

From Theory to Practice- Selected papers from the 2013 ICLHE Conference

Edited By Robert Wilkinson and Mary Louise Walsh

Higher education has seen dramatic changes in the past quarter of a century, notably in the language used for instruction. Universities worldwide are increasingly switching to English enabling them to attract a wide student population. This book presents a new collection of original papers showing how universities apply content and language integrated learning to their instructional contexts. The papers highlight the challenges of theory, policy, programme and course design, integration, and teacher and student competences. The diverse international contexts addressing not just English will be of particular interest to university teachers, educational administrators, linguists and others wishing to understand the instructional landscape of higher education today.
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A tale of two countries: Diverging policies on English-medium instruction in the Netherlands and Flanders


Abstract Due to the internationalization of European higher education, English has become the most widely used foreign language of instruction, as may be observed in the Dutch language area. Yet, there are some striking differences between the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). Whereas the Netherlands is in the vanguard of English-medium instruction (EMI), Flanders is more reluctant to introduce EMI.

This paper reports on language management at the political, institutional and personal level. It takes into account the European perspective while discussing the integration of content and (English) language in a Dutch-speaking academic context. The research is based on language policy documents as well as interviews with lecturers. The main finding is that the Netherlands and Flanders reflect strikingly different language ideologies and discourses, which may have repercussions in a globalizing educational landscape.

Keywords: Dutch language area; language policy; English-medium instruction; the Netherlands; Flanders

1.  Introduction

This paper deals with English-medium instruction (EMI) in the Netherlands and in Flanders, which I referred to as a tale of two countries. Strictly speaking, this is not entirely correct, as Flanders is not a country in the political sense of the word (that is, a state), but a part of another state, Belgium. Yet, Flanders has gained a large degree of autonomy in the last decades, for instance in educational matters, as a result of which Flanders has its own Ministry of Education, and it has adopted its own language...

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