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Emplacing English as lingua franca in international higher education: A spatial perspective on linguistic diversity

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  • Hanne Kirstine Adriansen
  • Thilde Juul-Wiese
  • Lene Møller Madsen, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Taina Saarinen, University of Jyväskylä
  • ,
  • Vera Spangler, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Johanna L. Waters, University College London

Within higher education, internationalisation is increasingly important for students and academics alike. In this context, English as the lingua franca has gained prominence. The ostensible ubiquity of English rests on a particular rendering of the language as unitary, fixed, and undifferentiated. In this paper, we challenge this notion of English and use a spatial approach to explore the multiplicity of Englishes on display within the higher education context. Increasingly, within higher education outside Anglophone countries, English Medium Instruction (EMI) is seen as a crucial indicator of internationalisation: the term ‘international programmes' is often used as a proxy for programmes taught in English. Hence, the aim of this paper is to explore the role of English in internationalisation of higher education, and to show how a spatial approach can illuminate what English means and how it is experienced in its multiple and shifting forms. We examine Danish higher education to explore the multiple usages of English amongst so-called ‘native' and ‘nonnative' speakers and show the spatial and hierarchical complexity of language. We suggest that a spatial perspective on English in the context of international higher education can help nuance debates about internationalisation and language in important ways – there is not one, but multiple forms of English, displayed at different times and in different places, with differing effects in the creation of spatial hierarchies.

TidsskriftPopulation, Space and Place
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2023


  • internationalisering, sprog, lingua franca engelsk, Videregående uddannele

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