European Journal of Language Policy

Policy development for English-medium instruction in French universities

European Journal of Language Policy (2018), 10, (1), 13–37.

Abstract

In July 2013, Article 2 of the Fioraso Law was passed legalising English-medium instruction (EMI) in French universities. This controversial measure immediately sparked passionate debates in the National Assembly and the media. While on the surface this announcement signifies a historical shift in French language policy, a closer analysis of the policy formation signals a more complex picture. In an attempt to understand policy not as a politico-linguistic object but as a process and site of struggle, this paper focuses on how the parliamentary debates have been recontextualised in the drafting process of the law. The aim is to highlight the sensitive issues and major topics surrounding the EMI debate and trace the textual transformations of the law. This study focuses on four different versions of the Fioraso Law and the parliamentary debates. Drawing on the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA), the author examines the extent to which the parliamentary debates influenced and shaped the language policy text. An analysis of the multiple revisions of the policy reveals marked differences between the initial draft of 2012 and the final version in 2013. The amendments show that certain key issues from the parliamentary discussions have been taken into account, notably concerns about the perceived threat of EMI on Francophonie. However, the textual transformations indicate greater resistance towards EMI than was actually the case in the parliamentary debates.

L’Article 2 de la loi Fioraso, votée en juillet 2013, légalisait l’enseignement en anglais dans les universités françaises. Cette disposition, très controversée, a donné lieu à des débats passionnés à l’Assemblée Nationale et dans les médias. Alors qu’à première vue cette décision signifie un changement historique dans la politique linguistique de la France, une analyse plus poussée révèle un tableau plus complexe. Cet article étudie la manière dont les débats parlementaires ont été recontextualisés au cours de l’élaboration de la loi. Le but est de mettre en évidence les questions sensibles et les thèmes principaux qui ressortent des débats sur l’enseignement en anglais et de suivre les transformations textuelles de la loi. L’article se concentre sur quatre versions différentes du texte et sur les débats parlementaires. S’appuyant sur la “Discourse-Historical Approach” nous tentons de montrer dans quelle mesure les débats parlementaires ont influencé et donné forme au texte de loi. Une analyse de ces multiples révisions met en lumière des différences importantes entre la première rédaction de 2012 et la dernière de 2013. Les amendements montrent que, sur certaines questions essentielles, il a été tenu compte des débats parlementaires, en particulier des craintes que l’enseignement en anglais puisse représenter une menace pour la francophonie. Cependant, les transformations textuelles indiquent une plus grande résistance à l’égard de l’enseignement en anglais que ce ne fut en réalité le cas au cours des débats parlementaires.

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Blattès, Marianne