Monthly Archives: May 2012

ELF in an elite international educational context: Attitudes and perceptions under the ELFel Tower with Annamária Tóth

Boğaziçi University, Istanbul


In this paper, we investigate the use of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) by highly mobile and globally engaged students and staff involved in a bilingual graduate programme at an elite higher-education institution in France. This paper builds on prior studies that investigate the use of ELF as a communicative tool in multilingual contexts (e.g. Hülmbauer, 2007), on attitudinal studies (e.g. Jenkins, 2007; Zeiss, 2010), and also on a number of recent approaches (e.g. Seidlhofer, 2006; Ehrenreich, 2009; Kalocsai, 2009; Tóth, 2010) that have taken up the notion of groups of ELF users as communities of practice (see Wenger, 1998). While there has been a wealth of studies on the structural and pragmatic features of ELF, there have been comparatively few in-depth qualitative analyses of the attitudes and perceptions towards language use of active ELF speakers. We will address this gap by presenting some findings from our research into a linguistically and culturally diverse community of ELF speakers who work or study on the Master in European Affairs at Sciences Po Paris, using both English and French daily as working languages. These speakers also tend to use other languages on a regular basis, reflecting their diverse backgrounds in terms of national and linguistic identities. We draw on the critical approach to the study of language varieties developed by Unger (2009, 2010) to investigate the discourse on ELF within this community by means of textual analysis of interview data. In doing so, we attempt to situate the discourse on ELF at Sciences Po in the context of Europeanisation and, also more generally, the globalisation of education.

Invited paper: Critical discourse studies: investigating language policy and attitudes towards language use

Nablus, West Bank


In this paper I will outline some of the main theoretical and methodological considerations involved in applying a critical discourse studies framework to the study of language policies and language attitudes. In particular, I will attempt to show how we can best use critical, discursive approaches such as critical discourse analysis when examining language attitudes and policies. Two case studies will illustrate this point: first, drawing on a previous research project, a study of the Scots language, an autochtonous minority language spoken in Scotland, is used to show how language attitudes pervade the public and private spheres, and how often languages are evaluated positively, but not necessarily valued; and second, I will present the preliminary findings from an ongoing investigation into attitudes towards the use of English as a Lingua Franca at a higher education institution in France, in which students in a highly multilingual environment hold sometimes unexpected attitudes towards the various languages in their linguistic repertoires. In each case, “top-down” data such as policy documents and debates among power elites are combined with “bottom-up” data gathered from language users affected by policies and attitudes. I will argue that it is not enough to look at the content of language policies and what people say about language. Rather, to fully account for the impact of policy and attitudes on the lives of language users, we must look at how both powerful and affected groups and structure, instrumentalise, and recontextualise discourse on language and language varieties.