Language Challenges in Global and Regional Integration

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Summary

The article analyses whether the expansion of English is adding to linguistic repertoires, or whether a process of linguistic capital dispossession of national languages is taking place. It explores the role that discourses of ‘global English’ and of English as a ‘lingua franca’ play in processes of global and regional European integration. It considers whether the linguistic capital of all languages can be made productive when in much of Europe there is a marked downgrading of the learning of foreign languages other than English, alongside the continued neglect of many minority languages. Language pedagogy and language policy need to be situated within wider political, social and economic contexts. EU schemes for research collaboration and student mobility are of limited help in maintaining linguistic diversity. The Bologna process furthers European integration but intensifies the hegemony of English. Nordic universities are moving into bilingual education, combining English with a national language. The 2006 Declaration on a Nordic Language Policy aims at ensuring that Nordic languages and English develop in parallel, that all residents can maintain their languages, and that language policy issues should be widely understood. If neoliberalism and linguistic neoimperialism are determining factors, there are challenges in maintaining the vitality of languages, and organizing school and university education so as to educate critical multilingual citizens.

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