Multilingual policies and practices of universities in bilingual regions in Europe

Josep Maria Cots, David Lasagabaster, Peter Garrett.
International Journal of the Sociology of Language

The interconnection between globalization and multilingualism in the evolution of European societies has become an undeniable fact. On the one hand, there seems to be a greater need for lingua francas that can facilitate understanding among individuals from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and, ultimately, allow them to increase their chances of geographical and socio-economic mobility. On the other hand, in a world that tends to be perceived as increasingly homogeneous, speakers of minority languages may see their identities threatened by the dominance of those lingua francas and stand up for the right to use their languages. This tension is especially felt in the university context. This paper discusses some of the tensions and ambiguities related to the management of multilingualism which may arise in bilingual universities in the process of designing and implementing internationalization policies. The study focuses on three universities which are located in the European bilingual regions of Catalonia (University of Lleida), the Basque Country (University of the Basque Country) and Wales (Cardiff University) respectively. The paper gives an overview of (i) the sociolinguistic situation of each university and (ii) the main elements of their internationalization policy with an emphasis on its impact on language policy.