Multilingual Universities and
Globalisation - Promoting
Creativity and Linguistic Human
Rights? Or?
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
University of Roskilde, Denmark
Åbo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland
http://akira.ruc.dk/~tovesk/
[email protected]
Contents of the paper
 Prelude – globalisation, neoimperialism, force, agency and global
English
 Monolingual, bilingual and
multilingual universities
 The role of multilingual universities in
the context of globalisation – some
questions
(See Notes for references!)
Contents of the paper
 Prelude – globalisation, neoimperialism, force, agency and
global English
 Monolingual, bilingual and
multilingual universities
 The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation –
some questions
God and the USA 1901- 2000 Senator Albert J. Beveridge, Indiana, 1901
George W. Bush, 2000
• ”God has marked the American people as his
chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration
of the world. This is the divine mission of
America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the
glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are
trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its
righteous peace.” (Beveridge, 1901)
“Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned
by history to be a model to the world”, Bush 2000
English according to CIA:
Is American English universal,
just like ”American values” are
supposed to be?
English the sole global language
A CIA report in 1997 stated that the
coming five years would be decisive for
the establishment of English as the sole
international language.
Hervé Lavenir de Buffon, founder of ’Comités pour
le français, langue européenne’, RO Magazine 34,
22 June 2002.
Neo-imperialist ideas spreading again
“The rest of the world is best served by
the USA pursuing its own interests
because
American values are universal”.
Condoleezza Rice, 2000
EU also follows a US agenda
(Robert Phillipson, 2005).
Are European universities doing so too?
Guidelines for USA foreign policy from 1948 Bretton Woods, to World Bank & IMF to WTO. George
Kennan, main USA BW negotiator in 1948
’We have 50% of the world’s wealth, but
only 6,3% of its population. In this
situation, our real job in the coming period
is to devise a pattern of relationships which
permit us to maintain this position of
disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with
all sentimentality ... we should cease
thinking about human rights, the raising of
living standards, and democratisation’
Globalisation – imperialism
definitions
Colonialism - imperialism globalisation - definitions
• Colonialism, the conquest and direct control
of other people’s land, is a particular phase in
the history of imperialism.
• Imperialism … is now best understood as the
globalisation of the capitalist mode of
production, its penetration of previously noncapitalist regions of the world, and destruction
of pre- or non-capitalist forms of social
organization. (Williams & Chrisman 1993: 2)
Pierre Bourdieu: globalisation is ideological
universalisation of particular models
France, glorifying the French society as
‘the presumed incarnation of the Rights of
Man’ saw ‘the inheritance of the French
Revolution … as the model for all possible
revolutions’. Bourdieu (2001: 96-97)
describes today's globalisation
Pierre Bourdieu: globalisation is
ideological universalisation of particular models
Bourdieu (2001: 96-97) describes today's
globalisation as ‘a pseudo-concept that is both
descriptive and prescriptive. It has replaced
“modernisation”, that was long used in the social
sciences in the USA as a euphemistic way of
imposing a naively ethnocentric evolutionary
model by means of which different societies were
classified according to their distance from the
economically most advanced society, i.e.
American society. […]
Bourdieu: globalisation: the USA universalising its
own particularity covertly as a universal model
’The word (and the model it
expresses) incarnates the most
accomplished form of the
imperialism of the universal, which
consists of one society [USA]
universalising its own particularity
covertly as a universal model.’
Moving to language(s),
especially English,
in globalisation/
imperialism.
Is there any agency?
What are the forces
propelling (subtractive) English
forward?
Imperialism and languages – production and
hierarchisation of subjectivities 1
”The
great industrial and financial powers […]
produce not only commodities but also
subjectivities […] Communication not only
expresses but also organizes the movement of
globalization […] by multiplying and structuring
interconnections through networks […].
Language, as it communicates, produces
commodities but moreover creates subjectivities,
puts them in relation, and orders them.”
Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio (2000). Empire.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 32-33.
Imperialism and languages – production and
hierarchisation of subjectivities 2
”Language… creates subjectivities, puts them
in relation, and orders them.” Hardt &
Negri, 2000: 32-33.
What are the subjectivities created by ”global
English”? Are people and their
subjectivities ”put in relation and ordered”
on the basis of their competence in English?
Is this linguistic imperialism? What role do
multilingual universities play in this
hierarchisation? Might they unwittingly be
agents of linguistic imperialism?
Is linguistic imperialism part of modern
”agentless” imperialistic control? 1
”The political argument implicit in many of
those who oppose the linguistic imperialism
hypothesis is to deny the existence of
imperialism as such in our days, and to opt
for very general ’globalisation’ hypothesis
where no concrete actors can be identified.”
Hamel, Rainer Enrique (2004). Language Empires,
Linguistic Imperialism and the Future of Global
Languages. Manuscript.
[email protected]
Linguistic neo-imperialism 2
No agency, no intentions; “God”?
• “The ascendancy of English is merely the outcome
of the coincidence of accidental forces” (Robert
Kaplan 2001: 19)
• English has become a global language because it
“was in the right place at the right time” (David
Crystal 1997: 8).
Maybe the English language was also chosen by God,
just as “Our nation is chosen by God” (Bush)?
Not force itself, but the
capacity to present force as being in the
service of right and peace
”Sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a series
of national and supranational organisms united under a
single logic of rule. This new global form of sovereignty
is what we call Empire.” (p. xii)
”Empire is formed not on the basis of force itself but on
the basis of the capacity to present force as being in the
service of right and peace.” (p. 15). Hardt, Michael &
Negri, Antonio (2000). Empire. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press
Empire is NOT anchored in a place (e.g. USA) but in
organisms and networks. No conspiracy theories. But
the US just happens to control many of the networks.
English linguistic imperialism is presented as
”being in the service of right and peace”
(Hardt & Negri), not control.
People need and want English!
TRUE, people everywhere are screaming for
English, for the promises it gives, ”the Alchemy
of English” (Braj Kachru) (what English touches
becomes gold). English stands for jobs and
riches! You become somebody through English.
BUT learning English may be subtractive, not
additive. Often the promises do not materialise.
Failed promisies? Excluded because
of their ”bad” English
• ”Earlier ordinary people were excluded
because they did not know English. Now
when ordinary people work three jobs to be
able to send their children to Englishmedium schools, the children are excluded
because of their ’bad English’” (Jennifer
Bayer, Central Institute of Indian
Languages, Mysore, 1994).
What about universities
and multilingualism?
Contents of the paper
 Prelude – globalisation, neoimperialism, force, agency and
global English
 Monolingual, bilingual and
multilingual universities
 The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation –
some questions
Monolingual uni, same MT students
does not exist anywhere?
• Teaching
language: X
• Students’
mother tongue:
X,X,X,X,X,X,X,
X,X, X,X,X,X,
X,X,X,X,X,X,X,
X,X,X,X,X,X
Imagined nation state, one language
All students have the same mother tongue
Monolingual uni, diverse students
but the majority with X as MT
• Teaching
language: X
• Students’
mother
tongues:
X,X,X,X,X,X,X,
X,X, X,X,X,
X,X,X,X,X,X,X,
X,X, X;X;X
• a, b, Y
(invisible)
X
Y
b
a
X
X
X
Monolingual uni, very diverse
students but few with X as MT
• Teaching
language: X
(often English)
• Students’
mother
tongues: a, b,
X,X, a, b, y, f, g,
h, l, m, m, b, t,
v,y
• (all others
except X
invisible)
X
y
f
a
g
f
v
h
What is NOT a multilingual
university? 1
• It is manifestly not enough for a university which
wants to offer multilingual education to be
”linguistically diverse” (= have students with many
mother tongues).
• It is not enough to have multilingual staff.
• It is not enough to have a situation where many
languages are heard in the corridors or even seen on
the walls.
• All of this is positive, and necessary, but not
sufficient for a multilingual university.
What is multilingual education?
• Andersson & Boyer’s (1978) classic definition of
bilingual education demanded that two languages
be used as languages of instruction in subjects other
than the languages themselves.
• Accordingly, multilingual education is education
where more than two languages are used as
languages of instruction in subjects other than the
languages themselves.
• The criterion for multilingual education is here the
number of languages of instruction.
What is a multilingual university? 1
We can use the same definition for universities:
A multilingual university
is a university where
more than two languages are
used as languages of instruction
in subjects other
than the languages themselves.
What is a multilingual university? 2
This definition means that the main
criterion for multilingual universities
is the number of languages of
instruction.
But this not the only criterion
Issues to be thought through and
acted on in multilingual universities
The relationship between ALL students’ mother
tongues and other languages, especially the
medium of education
The students’ competences in their various
languages and how to enhance ALL of them
Possible hierarchisations based on language
(linguicism),
The same applies to teaching staff.
Bilingual or multilingual?
• Finland is an officially bilingual country
(Finnish and Swedish), and with
regional language rights for 3 Saami
languages, plus other languages including the Finnish Sign language and
Romany - recognised in the constitution.
Nevertheless, Finland has many bilingual
but few MULTIlingual universities.
University of Helsinki – from
bilingual to multilingual? 1
The University of Helsinki was
a bilingual university when I
taught here in the 1970s. Both
Finnish and Swedish
were used
as languages of instruction.
Bilingual uni, two sets of ”monolingual” students (NOT ”my” Helsinki)
• Teaching
languages: X, Y
• Students’ MTs:
X,X,X,X,X,X,X,
X,X, X,X,X,
• a, b (invisible)
• Y,Y,Y,Y,Y,Y,Y,
Y,Y,Y,Y, a, b
(invisible)
Student X,
Student Y,
NO
taught through
taught through
CONTACT language Y
language X
Bilingual uni, two sets of ”monolingual”
students with some cross-over (”my” Helsinki)
• Teaching
languages: X, Y
• Students’ MTs:
X,X,X,Y, X,
X,X,XX,X,X,X,X,
X,X,X, Y, Y,
• a, b (invisible)
• Y,Y,X,Y,Y,Y,Y,Y,Y,
Y,Y,X,Y, a, b
(invisible)
Mostly X,
some Y,
invisible
a,b
NO or little
CONTACT
Mostly Y,
some X,
invisible
a,b
University of Helsinki – from
bilingual to multilingual? 2
• Now one of the six Master programmes
are taught through the medium of English
(Raivio 2005). Altogether over 400
courses are taught in English.
• This is now a multilingual university.
• Or is it?
University of Jyväskylä is
multilingual
• Another multilingual university in Finland is
Jyväskylä. Finnish is the main teaching language.
English is used as a medium in 6 of the 9 Master
programmes (Raivio 2005). There is no Swedish
medium teaching.
• But in the 5-year teacher education for teachers who
will be competent to teach all 9 years of basic school
through the medium of Finnish Sign language,
most of the courses are taught through the medium
of Sign, or, if the lecturer does not know any Sign
language, interpreted into Finnish Sign language.
In all the bilingual universities, those
students who cross over (e.g. Finnish
mother tongue students who choose
to study through the medium of
Swedish in Finland), need to know
the language of instruction, to
manage. Often they get little support
in the language of instruction (their
L2) and none in their mother tongue.
But
the Finnish-speaking students in
Finland, studying through the
medium of Swedish, have freely
chosen the language of instruction
among existing alternatives.
They could also have studied
through the medium of their mother
tongue, Finnish, in Finland, had they
wanted to.
The same is true for Swedishspeaking students in Finland,
studying through the medium of
Finnish. They have freely chosen the
language of instruction among
existing alternatives.
They could also have studied
through the medium of their mother
tongue, Swedish, in Finland, had they
wanted to.
Being able freely to choose the language
of instruction among existing
alternatives which are qualitatively
approximately at the same level is for
schools one of the most important
necessary factors for successful study
through the medium of a foreign
language and for becoming high-level
bilingual through this type of education.
What about universities?
This necessary factor for successful
study through the medium of a
foreign language does NOT exist for
most indigenous, minority or
dominated group students in the
world, neither at school nor at
university level. It is often the most
decisive factor in the educational
failure of students, quantitatively
especially in Africa and Asia.
In all the monolingual or bilingual
universities, the invisible a, b, c, d,
etc students also need to know the
language of instruction to manage.
In many (most?) of them they get no
or little support in the language of
instruction (their L2). Virtually no
universities support their L1.
Schools which force indigenous,
minority or dominated group
students to accept education through
the medium of a language foreign to
them, with no alternatives, may
participate in linguistic genocide
according to two of the definitions of
genocide in the United Nations
Genocide Convention.
UN International Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide (E793, 1948)
has five definitions of genocide.
Three of them are about physical killing.
The two that are not, fit today’s
indigenous & minority education
(and much of dominated language
group education)
Genocide is…
• Article II(e): 'forcibly transferring
children of the group to another
group'; and
• Article II(b): 'causing serious bodily
or mental harm to members of the
group'; (emphasis added).
If students, taught in school through the
medium of a dominant second/foreign
language, are forced to learn this language
AT THE COST OF THEIR MOTHER
TONGUE, subtractively, the school may
participate in linguistic genocide, through
transferring the students linguistically to
another group and preventing or delaying (=
seriously harming) the students’ cognitive,
linguistic and academic growth
Contents of the paper
 Prelude – globalisation, neoimperialism, force, agency and
global English
 Monolingual, bilingual and
multilingual universities
 The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation –
some questions
Question: If schools which force
indigenous, minority or dominated group
students to accept education through the
medium of a language foreign to them,
with no alternatives, may participate in
linguistic genocide, might this be true for
universities too?
Answer: we do not know. Possibly,
possibly not – but it is worth
investigating to what extent similar
problems exist.
Dominant-language-only
submersion programmes “are
widely attested as the least
effective educationally for
minority language students”
(May & Hill 2003: 14, study commisioned by the
Maori Section of the Aotearoa/New Zealand
Ministry of Education).
Multilingual universities (adding, for
instance, English as a teaching
language, as in many European
countries), have to ask themselves,
several overall questions. Some are
listed here.
1. Is everybody’s mother
tongue supported? Do they
become academically
competent in their L1 too?
2. Does everybody have an
opportunity to become
really competent in the
medium of instruction?
3. Are students or programmes or
staff hierarchised on the basis of
language (their MTs and their
competence in the medium of
instruction)? Is linguicism at
work here? (compare with racism,
sexism, ethnicism, ageism, etc).
Are language-created
subjectivities hierarchised?
Linguicism
• LINGUICISM: 'ideologies, structures and
practices which are used to legitimate, effectuate,
regulate and reproduce an unequal division of
power and resources (both material and
immaterial) between groups which are defined on
the basis of language' (Skutnabb-Kangas 1988:
13).
• Most education systems worldwide reflect
linguicism (Skutnabb-Kangas 2000).
4. Do the staff have
adequate training for
multilingual teaching,
linguistically and
pedagogically? Are they
multilingual themselves?
Often heard counterargument:
But it is voluntary – they have chosen
themselves!
Surely students taught through the
medium of a dominant
second/foreign language have freely
chosen this education; in fact they
demand and desire it!
But are they aware of the possibility
of the education being subtractive?
Are they being dispossessed?
It is a Free Choice! Isn’t it?
Or is it dispossession of capital?
Haven’t the students chosen freely?
Don’t they all WANT English medium?
They NEED English for their future!
• Or - Are the students (being taught
subtractively in a foreign language) being
dispossessed (Harvey 2005) of their
linguistic capital, if their total linguistic
repertoire does not grow much through the
education in this foreign language,?
Assimilation is not freely chosen if
the choice is between one’s mother
tongue and one’s future
The United Nation’s 2004 Human Development Report
links cultural liberty to language rights and human
development (http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2004/)
and argues that there is
“ no more powerful means of ‘encouraging’ individuals to
assimilate to a dominant culture than having the
economic, social and political returns stacked against
their mother tongue.
Such assimilation is not freely chosen if the choice is
between one’s mother tongue and one’s future”. (p. 33).
Assimilation not freely chosen if the choice is
between one’s mother tongue and one’s future
The press release about the UN report exemplifies the role
of language as an exclusionary tool:
“Limitations on people’s ability to use their native
language—and limited facility in speaking the dominant
or official national language—can exclude people from
education, political life and access to justice.
Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 2,500 languages, but
the ability of many people to use their language in
education and in dealing with the state is particularly
limited. In more than 30 countries in the region, the
official language is different from the one most
commonly used. Only 13 percent of the children who
receive primary education do so in their native
language.”
Assimilation not freely chosen if there
are no alternatives, and if the
consequences are not known
• We can only speak about ”choice”, if
• - there are (qualitatively equal) alternatives, and
• - the students have enough research-based
knowledge about the likely long-term
consequences of the choices.
• This includes consequences such as possible
dispossession of linguistic (and intellectual?)
capital through subtractive learning,
hierarchisation, and endangerment for other
languages.
Multilingual uni, three sets of students
hierarchised on the basis of language?
Teaching langX
uages: X, Y, Z
Programme Z
has a higher
Mostly X
status than the
others?
Z
Therefore, it will
grow…and
grow, at the
cost of the
others (cuckoo
syndrome)?
Y
LITTLE Mostly Y
CONTACT?
Students
diverse, but
hierarchised
according to
competence
in language Z
The cuckoo syndrome?
Y
X
Z
Mostly X
Z
LITTLE Mostly Y
CONTACT?
Students
diverse, but
hierarchised
according to
competence
in language Z
English medium Master programmes at Finnish
universities, share of total
(TUTKINTOASETUS 2005)
– Helsinki
1/6
– Tampere
3/7
– Joensuu
4/5
– Turku
5/7
– Jyväskylä
6/9
– Åbo Akademi 1/3
– Kuopio
4/7
– Lappeenranta,
Oulu, Vaasa
0
Multidisciplinary Master programmes
in English, total 24/44 = 55%
Source: Chancellor Kari Raivio (Helsinki),
Paper in Järvenpää, 3 August 2005
Should Finns be worried? At least
about domain loss? Are they/we? The
Swedes, Norwegians, Danes,
Icelanders, French, Estonians, etc.,
are worried (too).
What is happening to other
languages in countries where English
becomes an important language of
instruction in higher education?
• Many countries are worried about domain loss,
and worse. On the other hand, many see the
situation as a necessary choice between romantic
traditionalists clinging to the mother tongue, and
realists wanting to participate in a globalised
modern word – in English. Either/or
ideologies/paradigms, instead of both/and/and.
English OR the mother tongue is an
unfortunate ”choice” when both/and
is possible and preferable
• There is no need to choose; both/and/and is
perfectly possible. In additive bilingual
education, competence levels reached in a
dominant language (e.g. English) are as
high as or often higher than in subtractive
monolingual English-medium education. In
addition, students learn their own language.
High-level multilingualism is the future.
Saami University College (Norway)
http://www.samiskhs.no/
“The College has national responsibility for Saami teachertraining and journalist-training and higher education. The
College serves all Saami students in Saami Area of Norway,
Sweden, Finland and Russia. In Saami University College
the Saami language is the main language and most of the
instructing of the studies is given in Saami language. [All]
students and staff are … bi or multilingual. The priorities
for building up competence and creating a Saami higher
education are to develop Saami language as an academic
language; to develop concepts into Saami language for
teaching and to research and develop the syllabuses/
curricula on the basis of Saami needs for the studies in the
Saami society. Please note that the main language of the
Saami University College webpages is Saami”.
Multilingual uni, one set of students not
hierarchised on the basis of language?
Teaching language
A + others,
mainly other
Saami languages
and Nordic
languages or
English, mainly
with guest
lecturers;
materials in
many languages
Students diverse, from several
countries and mother tongues, but not
hierarchised according to
competence in language A; staff
diverse; ALL minimally bilingual,
with different combinations, but
always with at least one Saami
language; language support for all.
Multilingual? Goal!
• Some universities might be defined as
multilingual universities on the basis of
their goal: the students should be high
level multilinguals when they leave the
university. In indigenous and some
minority situations this might best be
reached through using mainly one
language of instruction.
Can multilingual universities without
hierarchisation deliver?
• THE PRIZE FOR QUALITY OF EDUCATION 2005
TO SAAMI UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
• Saami University College in Guovdageaidnu, Norway
has won the prestigious prize for quality of education for
excellent quality for study and education in the higher
education in Norway. The prize is given by The
Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education
(NOKUT). It is 500.000 Norwegian crowns (about 62.200
euros).
• http://www.samiskhs.no/eng/update/quality_price05.htm
Are some European elites being infected
by monolingual reductionism?
Monolingual reductionism: attitudes
which see monolingualism (in
English?) as something normal,
desirable, sufficient, and
unavoidable.
Are some European elites being
infected by this illness?
The role of multilingual universities in the context
of globalisation. Some more questions
• Many universities in countries where English is not the
or an official language, have added English as a
teaching language (e.g. through the Bologna process in
Europe), thus becoming bilingual or multilingual. There
is enthusiasm – but amongst whom?
• In many former colonies English is or has remained the
only teaching language in universities even after formal
decolonisation. There is also massive resistance.
• QUESTION 1: Is Europe going towards a
new linguistic self-colonisation? Could we
learn from other countries with longer
experience of English medium?
Failed promisies? The myth of
English medium superiority in school
Ajit Mohanty shows that children whose mother
tongue is a regional language and who have this
language as the main medium of education
during the first many years, get better
educational results than Indian children in
English medium education, despite the economic
disparities between the models.
”English-medium versus regional mother tongue medium
schooling: The myth of English medium superiority”.
Subtitle in article (in press) by Professor Ajit Mohanty,
Jawahrlar Nehru University, Delhi, India.
Failed promisies? English medium
superiority at universities. Roskilde
“In the coming years this university intends to offer
courses in English in almost all its departments. After
teaching an introductory course this spring in History
and Culture in the Humanities at International Cultural
Studies, we wonder if Roskilde University is inviting a
disaster, for many of our students are simply not able to
write correct and clear English. …The problem … is not
the students’ lack of will to work in ORAL English, it is
the lack of tools with which the university equips them
FOR WRITTEN ENGLISH…. Many students have
such severe difficulties expressing their views in written
English that it is hard to understand what they are
trying to say”.
Failed promisies? English medium
superiority at universities. Roskilde
“… it wasn’t the student’s ability to analyse that
constituted the problem, but their lack of training in
conveying analytical points due to their limited
English…. For the time being we are letting down the
students… We are shoving massive problems into a
closet and shutting the door and pretending they do not
exist. For those of us who genuinely believe in a
university as a place for higher education, it is time to do
something about a low standard of English that makes
intellectual discourse on a university level difficult if not
impossible”. (Jensen & McGuire 2005).
Reaction from the vice-chancellor
”Henrik Toft [the Vice-chancellor of the
University of Roskilde, Denmark] has
said there is no money for any kind of
remedial language teaching nor for
instruction in academic English”
(Brian Patrick McGuire, Professor of
History, personal communication 27
August 2005).
A description of Arab countries where most of the
university education is through the medium of
English, and where hierarchies are partially based
on English competence (Sohail Karmani 2005: 91)
• The extreme reliance on hiring foreign expertise –
mostly Western or Western oriented – often proves to be
costly and tends to advocate policy changes that (a)
conflict with local interests and (b) are seldom absorbed
locally. […] The broader social effects of relying so
heavily on foreign expertise have proven to be far more
devastating: the demand and possibilities for the
production of local knowledge are severely stifled.
Potential local experts are instantly rendered obsolete;
and the general social value of [Arab] social scientists,
educators and language specialists is substantially
reduced. (UN Development Programme 2003).
(Sohail Karmani 2005: 91)
• “All this tends to produce artificial social
hierarchies between Westerners and [Arabs] in
terms of knowledge and expertise, and eventually
perpetuates the [Arab] brain drain” (United
Nations Development Programme 2003, quoted
in Karmani 2005: 91). “More perniciously, a
‘rentier mentality’ sets in orientated towards
spending and acquisition where the onus is
placed almost entirely on foreign experts to work
out crucial far reaching policy initiatives”.
(Karmani, Sohail, 2005, Islam and English in the
Post-9/11 Era).
Nexus between English and the
corporate world…
•Sohail Karmani 2005:
Petro-Linguistics: The
Emerging Nexus between
Oil, English, and Islam
’We are mentally colonialized and
alienated from our cultures if all
we know is in English’
Tariq Rahman, 2002 (Pakistan)
Snobs? English is the possession of elites?
(Tariq Rahman, Pakistan, 2002)
• ”English-medium schools tend to produce
snobs completely alienated from their
culture and languages”
• ”English should be taught as a [foreign]
language to all children so that it is no
longer the sole possession of the elite”
The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation.
More questions
• In many countries where English is not the or an official
language, a large amount of time and resources in school
are devoted to the learning of English. In many former
colonies, learning English is seen as “to become
educated”. In England and the USA, few students learn
foreign languages in school except in a marginal way.
QUESTION 2: Is a situation fair and equal where
language learning is unidirectional, and
everybody is supposed to function on an equal
basis while the communication language is the
mother tongue of some but not others?
Esperanto – a linguistic handshake
“One Chinese Esperanto speaker described
Esperanto as a linguistic handshake. When two
people shake hands they both reach out
halfway. When two people speak Esperanto
they have both made the effort to learn a
relatively easy, neutral language instead of one
person making the huge effort to learn the other
person's difficult national language and the other
person making no effort at all except to correct
his/her interlocutor's errors.” Sylvan Zaft:
http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq-9.html
Question:
Is learning and using English
with ”native speakers”
”a linguistic handshake”
for us who have
other mother tongues?
Who has to reach further?
Monolingual English speakers
exploit their monolingualism
(Monolingual) English speakers are in a better
negotiating position, being able to use their
mother tongue while we others have to use a
foreign or second language. They can
concentrate more on content and less on form
when using the mother tongue. In research, they
dominate "international" journals (look at the
editorial boards of a few…) and conferences;
their papers are accepted into journals and
conferences more often than equally
scientifically solid papers by foreign-language
writers of English. And so on…
USA savings: 19 billion/year 1
Most European countries teach a lot of foreign
languages in schools; Britain and the USA do not.
The savings (as compared to Europe) because of
the very limited foreign language teaching in the
USA, with some 38 million pupils in elementary
and secondary schools, are minimally around
19 billion dollars per year
(Grin & Sfreddo 1997, Grin 2003).
They benefit, we pay.
USA savings: 19 billion/year 2
These savings are made possible because "people in
the rest of the world are willing to devote time,
money and effort in learning […] English“
(Grin 2003).
USA can then invest this saved money (and time)
into some other human-capital-enhancing
activity that gives their students an edge. Or use
it for wars…
So far, monolingual English speakers are
winning economically – but not for long…
Monolingual English speakers do not need to
pay for our learning. We pay ourselves, in
terms of cash and time.
(Monolingual and/or “native”) English
speakers (or, rather, some of them) get
direct cash transfers from our learning the English teaching is a multibillion
pound/dollar business for Britain and the
United States.
The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation.
Some questions
QUESTION 3: If the students learn English
at a fairly high level in English medium
education (and maybe maintain at least
some of their mother tongue competence,
even if they cannot easily speak and write
about their own area of expertise in the
MT), is this not enough? English opens all
the doors and is absolutely necessary?
Monolingualism is a curable illness
English is not enough!
Neither for ”native speakers”,
nor for those with other mother tongues.
Voluntarily monolingual English speakers
are dangerous dinosaurs.
In 50 years’ time, we might find voluntarily
monolingual English speakers (who COULD
have learned other languages but chose not to),
in pathological museums.
English is not enough: inability to speak
client’s language can lead to failure
• A survey undertaken for the Community of
European Management Schools, an alliance
of academia and multinational
corporations, concludes that a company’s
inability to speak a client’s language can
lead to failure to win business because it
indicates lack of effort.
• The Financial Times, 3.12.2001
English is not enough: ”Foreign”
language skills – earn more!
Graduates with foreign language
skills earn more than those who
only know English
(reported in the British newspaper
The Independent 31.5.2001)
English is not enough
English is not enough. We are fortunate to
speak a global language but, in a smart and
competitive world, exclusive reliance on
English leaves the UK VULNERABLE and
dependent on the linguistic competence and
the goodwill of others … Young people from
the UK are at a GROWING
DISADVANTAGE in the recruitment
market (emphases added)
Nuffield Languages Enquiry, 2000
English is not enough
English monolingual British
graduates are already at a
disadvantage (recruitment,
salary level).
Supply and demand theories
predict:
When many people possess what earlier was a
scarce commodity (near-native English), the
price goes down. The value of ’perfect’
English skills as a financial incentive
decreases substantially when a high
proportion of a country’s or a region’s or
the world’s population know English well.
’Good’ English will be like
literacy yesterday
or computer skills today:
employers see it as self-evident
and necessary BUT NOT
SUFFICIENT
for good jobs.
Figure 1. The market diagram (Grin 2003: 26);
market equilibrium, balance between supply
and demand
Price
Supply
P*
Demand
Quantity
Q*
Figure 2. The market for high levels of English;
what happens when supply is higher than demand?
Consequences for market equilibrium (TSK)
Price
Supply
2020?
P*
2004?
Demand
Quantity
Q*
When the supply (number of people with ”good” English) goes up,
the price (its usefulness for individuals on the job market) goes down
The role of multilingual universities
in the context of globalisation.
More questions
QUESTION 4: What are the benefits for the
students and the rest of society if the
students, through a better organisation of
multilingual universities, become HIGHLEVEL multilinguals? What are the
drawbacks if they don’t?
Creativity, innovation, and investment
are results of additive teaching
and multilingualism
• Additive teaching leads to high-level multilingualism.
• High-level multilinguals as a group do better than
corresponding monolinguals on tests measuring several
aspects of 'intelligence', creativity, divergent thinking,
cognitive flexibility, etc.
• Creativity precedes innovation, also in commodity
production.
• Investment follows creativity.
• High-level multilingualism enhances creativity;
monolingualism and /or subtractive teaching diminish it.
In knowledge/information societies
uniformity is a handicap
Creativity, new diverse ideas, are the main
assets (cultural capital) in a knowledge
society and a prerequisite for humankind to
adapt to change and to find creative
solutions to the catastrophes of our own
making.
Multilingualism (linguistic capital) enhances
creativity,
monolingualism and homogenisation kill it.
Industrial
society
 Main product:
commodities
 Those do well who
control access to raw
materials and own
the other
prerequisites and
means of production
Knowledge
society
• Main product:
knowledge, ideas
• Those do well who
have access to diverse
knowledges, diverse
information, diverse
ideas: creativity
In knowledge societies uniformity is a
handicap
 Some uniformity might have
promoted certain aspects of
industrialisation (Fordism)
 In post-industrial knowledge/
information societies uniformity
will be a definite handicap
Linguistic diversity is a prerequisite for
maintaining biodiversity and life on the planet

Linguistic diversity and biodiversity are
correlationally and causally related.
 Knowledge about how to maintain
biodiversity is encoded in small indigenous
and local languages.
 Through killing them (as we do today) we
kill the prerequisites for maintaining
biodiversity and thus life on our planet.
 Universities may participate in this killing.
To conclude
Basic linguistic human rights should include
mother tongue medium maintenance education. Do universities participate or obstruct?
• English is not enough. In knowledge societies
uniformity is a handicap.
• Creativity, innovation and investment
are results of additive teaching and high levels of
multilingualism.
• Linguistic diversity is a prerequisite for
maintaining biodiversity and life on the planet
Basic linguistic human rights should include
mother tongue medium maintenance education. Do universities participate, or obstruct?
• English-medium university education where mother
tongues are not supported may lead to ”the-imperialismof-the-universal” globalisation (Bourdieu)and creation
of subjectivities hierarchised on the basis of language
(Hardt & Negri).
• Knowledges of non-English-medium-educated may be
invisibilised and invalidated (Karmani)
• Rationalisations of the hierarchies are presented in
terms of putative benefits for those who participate in
corporate globalisation – but these materialise only for
the few. Others are blamed. It is their own fault since
there are no agents, no linguistic imperialism (Hamel).
The role of applied linguistics
• “applied linguistics has a heavy
responsibility for spreading killer languages
such as English, and a dismal record in
preserving small languages. Language
maintenance remains an underdeveloped
field.”
Peter Mühlhäusler 2003:8.
Question: Are multilingual universities ”spreading
killer languages such as English” if they teach
subtractively?
The role of multilingual universities?
“Language maintenance remains an
underdeveloped field.”
Peter Mühlhäusler 2003:8.
Is language maintenance a field
that would be particularly well
suited to be developed by
multilingual universities?
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