Seminar - Language in higher education


10.00-11.00: Birgit Henriksen and Pete Westbrook: Meeting the challenges of researching L2 collocational competence in domain specific language.

11.00-12.00: Janus Mortensen and Katherine Kappa: Studying transient multilingual communities.


Birgit Henriksen and Pete Westbrook
An increasing number of universities across Europe are introducing English-medium instruction (EMI) study programmes, especially at Master’s level. This has led to a situation where tenured lecturers are teaching high-level academic courses to students in a language which is the L2 for both parties. To respond to the challenges of EMI, the University of Copenhagen has introduced a certification procedure involving an oral proficiency test of lecturers’ English (TOEPAS, Our study draws on data from 12 mini-lectures recorded from this test with lecturers from two different university departments (Large Animal Sciences and Mathematics).

                      Inspired by research which has shown that even advanced L2 learners experience problems with producing consistently correct and appropriate collocations (e.g. Nesselhauf, 2005), the present study investigates the lecturers’ L2 collocational competence. Henriksen (2013) has argued that conflicting results across previous collocation studies may be due to differences in the methodological approaches taken. In addition, providing a comprehensive description of collocational use in domain specific language has posed a range of new research challenges. The focus of our study is therefore on finding ways of meeting the many challenges of researching collocational use in domain specific language.

Janus Mortensen and Katherine Kappa
A key assumption in sociolinguistics is that interaction within communities tends to proceed on the basis of some degree of shared understanding of social and linguistic norms. However, in transient multilingual communities, defined here as social configurations where people from diverse sociocultural and linguistic backgrounds come together (physically or otherwise) for a limited period of time around a shared activity (Mortensen and Hazel fc), such shared assumptions cannot be assumed to be in place a priori. This means that transient multilingual communities to a greater extent than other communities allow us to study the ongoing formation of social and linguistic norms. In this talk, we will briefly discuss the notion of transient multilingual communities, exemplified by data from an international student community in Denmark, and then proceed to give an introduction to a research project (Transient Multilingual Communities and the Formation of Social and Linguistic Norms) that has been designed to investigate the sociolinguistic processes of transient communities through five comparative ethnographic case studies. The project is currently at an early stage, so we look forward to a fruitful discussion with the audience.