Foreign Language Education in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions: The State of Play

Open access


Over the last 15 to 20 years, changes in foreign language teaching policies in Portuguese higher education institutions (HEIs) have been subject to little discussion and less inter-institutional dialogue. Each institution has absorbed different European directives, and more specifically adapted its context in response to the Bologna Process, according to its own interpretation leading to widespread ‘distortion’ across foreign language teaching curricula. While demand for foreign language courses remains high in Portuguese HEIs there has been little formal research and scarce funding available for projects related to introducing innovative practices and materials. This paper provides a critical reading of the current state of play in this crucial sphere of higher education in Portugal.

Alarcão, Isabel. “Desafios Actuais ao Desenvolvimento da Didáctica de Línguas em Portugal.” Ensinar e Aprender Línguas e Culturas Estrangeiras Hoje. Que Perspectiva?, edited by Rosa Bizarro, Areal Editores, 2008, pp. 10-14.

Baptista, Ana Vitória, et al. “A Portuguese Perspective of the Bologna Process: Dialoguing Past, Present and Future.” Proceedings of the ICERI 2008 Conference (International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation), Madrid, 2008,

Beacco, Jean-Claude, and Michael Byram. Guide for the Development of Language Education Policies in Europe. From Linguistic Diversity to Plurilingual Education. Council of Europe, 2003.

Biggs, John, and Catherine Tang. Teaching for Quality Education. Open UP, 2011.

Bizarro, Rosa, organiser. Eu e o Outro: Estudos Multidisciplinares sobre Identidade(s), Diversidade(s) e Práticas Interculturais. Areal Editores, 2007.

Breen, Michael, and Christopher Candlin. “The Essentials of a Communicative Curriculum in Language Teaching”. Applied Linguistics, vol. 1, no. 2, 1980, pp. 89-112.

Byram, Michael. Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Education. Multilingual Matters, 1989.

Byram, Michael. Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters, 1997.

Canagarajah, Suresh. Reclaiming the Local in Language Policy and Practice. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005.

Gallagher-Brett, Angela. Seven Hundred Reasons for Studying Languages. University of Southampton, Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, 2005.

Guilherme, Maria Manuela. “The Intercultural Dimension of Citizenship Education in Portugal.” Education for Intercultural Citizenship: Concepts and Comparisons, edited by Geof Alred et al., Multilingual Matters, 2006.

Hejj, Andreas. “Bologna-Baloney-University, an Independent Stronghold of Free Thinking since the Middle Ages is in Danger.” PEDCTA, vol.1, 2011, pp. 1-2.

Hurst, Nicolas. “Core Concerns: Cultural Representation in English Language Teaching (ELT) Coursebooks”. Language Learning, Discourse and Communication, Second Language Learning and Teaching, edited by Weronika Szubko-Sitarek et al., Springer International Publishing, 2014.

Kramsch, Claire. “Third Culture and Language Education.” Contemporary Applied Linguistics, edited by Vivian Cook and Li Wei, Continuum, 2009, pp. 233-54.

Lorenz, Chris. “Will the Universities Survive the European Integration? Higher Education Policies in the EU and in the Netherlands before and after the Bologna Declaration.” Sociologia Internationalis, vol. 44, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1-23.

Matos, Ana. “Current Readers and Intercultural Learning.” Intercultural Competence – Concepts, Challenges, Evaluations, edited by Arnd Witte and Theo Harden, Peter Lang, 2011.

Nunan, David. The Learner-Centred Curriculum: A Study in Second Language Teaching. Cambridge UP, 1988.

Oller, John, and Jack Richards, editors. Focus on the Learner: Pragmatic Perspectives for the Language Teacher. Newbury House, 1973.

Phillipson, Robert. “Realities and Myths of Linguistic Imperialism.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 18, no. 3, 1997, pp. 238-48.

Pinto, Susana. “Language Education Policy in Portuguese Public Universities.” Paper given at the Higher Education Conference, Amsterdam, 2016.

Ritz, Régis. “European Universities in need of HELP! (Higher Education Language Policy).” European Journal of Language Policy, vol. 3, no. 1, 2011, pp. 108-12.

Tomusk, Voldemar. Creating the European Area of Higher Education. Voices from the Periphery. Springer, 2007.

Trigo, Salvato. The Bologna Process at Portuguese Higher Education Institutions. A Presentation at the Expanding Europe – Jubilee Rectors’ Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary, 2010.

Tudor, Ian. Learner-Centredness as Language Education. Cambridge UP, 1996.

Ur, Penny. “Language-Teaching Method Revisited.” English Language Teaching Journal, vol. 67, no. 4, 2013, pp. 468-74.

Veiga, Amélia, and Alberto Amaral. “Survey of the Implementation of the Bologna Process in Portugal.” Higher Education, vol. 57, 2009, pp. 57-69.

Waters, Alan. “Trends and Issues in ELT Methods and Methodology.” English Language Teaching Journal, vol. 66, no. 4, 2012, pp. 440-49.

White, Cynthia. “Focus on the Learner in an Era of Globalization.” Language Teaching, vol. 40, 2007, pp. 321-26.

Worton, Michael. Review of Modern Foreign Languages Provision in Higher Education in England. Higher Education Funding Council for England, 2009.


an e-journal of Teacher Education and Applied Language Studies

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 257 257 17
PDF Downloads 208 208 4