European Journal of Language Policy

Perspectives on educational language policy: Institutional and students' voices in higher education

European Journal of Language Policy (2014), 6, (2), 175–194.

Abstract

Considering the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the development of plurilingual competences, without which a democratic, active citizenship cannot be constructed, we carried out a study at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) aiming to: (1) identify perspectives on educational language policies in an academic context, namely in institutional and students' voices; (2) describe convergent and divergent perspectives within those voices; and (3) reflect on the contribution of such an analysis for the development and implementation of educational language policies in HEIs.

Different data collection instruments and methods were used in this study: documentary analysis (study regulations), interviews with institutional actors and student questionnaires (NTAS - non-traditional adult students). The results show that institutional actors and students share the same pragmatic perspective regarding the integration of languages in curricula, perceiving it in terms of employability, mobility and professional needs, and revealing a representation of languages as instrumental objects. There is also convergent thought concerning the reasons against languages integration in curricula, for which they believe HEIs should not be responsible. Divergent perspectives concern the importance attached to the integration of language courses in curricula: in contrast to institutional actors, most students believe that language learning is important in HE.

The study underlines the importance of knowing the perspectives of different academic actors on educational language policy, namely the inclusion of languages in curricula. This acknowledgement may help raise institutional awareness on the importance of implementing educational language policies, by enabling the creation of a locus of discussion.

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Author details

Ambrósio, Susana

Araújo e Sá, Maria

Pinto, Susana

Simões, Ana