The Englishisation of higher education in Catalonia: a critical sociolinguistic ethnographic approach to the students' perspectives
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This paper investigates the attitudes towards Englishisation displayed by 30 students enrolled in a Combined Languages degree, including English and another language, in a top-ranked bilingual university in Catalonia, where Spanish and Catalan coexist complexly, and where foreign language medium instruction is relatively new. Through a two-year fieldwork project, I report on how the institution implemented this partial English-medium instruction program for the first time in Spain, following its internationalisation mission. I then focus on the students' perspectives towards the officialisation of English as the third language of the Catalan university system. Via a Domain and Emotion Coding analysis of 30 essay-writing assignments, I show that students mobilise a series of predominantly favourable discourses on Englishisation which conflictingly interplay with negative attitudes towards it. They envision English as a post-national 'democratising' lingua franca and as an asset for employability and educational excellence, but they also construct it as a politicised threat to linguistic diversity. These perspectives contribute to a nuanced understanding of the students' range of ambivalent stances concerning the established sociolinguistic orders of globalised universities in Barcelona and the neo-liberal linguistic regimes of the European Higher Education Area, which call for policies providing a more balanced ecology of languages.