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Language policy in the internationalisation of Higher Education in Anglophone countries: The interplay between language policy as ‘text’, ‘discourse’ and ‘practice’

Florence Bonacina-Pugh ORCID logo, Elisabeth Barakos ORCID logo and Qi Chen


In order to better compete in an increasing neoliberalised education system, many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have developed an internationalisation strategy that aims at incorporating an intercultural and global dimension into curricula and learning environments for all. This internationalisation agenda raises important language policy issues that are often side-lined in the UK and other Anglophone countries where an English monolingual ethos prevails. Centrally, the question arises indeed as to whether internationalisation processes have an impact on HEIs’ language policies in Anglophone countries. This paper takes the case of a Russell Group University in the UK and focuses on two masters programmes that attract annually a ‘multilingual elite’ (Barakos and Selleck 2019). It examines the institution’s language policy adopted at the levels of ‘texts’, ‘discourses’ and ‘practices’ (Bonacina-Pugh 2012), using a critical discourse analysis of policy documents and a conversation analysis of classroom interactions. We argue that language policy is at the core of HEIs’ internationalisation processes even in Anglophone countries and that, methodologically, the articulation of findings from critical discourse and conversational analyses represents a step forward in the field of language policy.

Corresponding author: Florence Bonacina-Pugh, The School of Education, The University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, EH8 8AQ, Edinburgh, UK, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2020-07-13

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