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Lecturing in one's first language or in English as a lingua franca: The communication of authenticity

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The demand for internationalization puts pressure on Danish universities to use English as the language of instruction instead of or in addition to the local language(s). The purpose of this study – though proceeding from the belief that true internationalization seeks to exploit all linguistic and communicative resources available within the institution – is to offer potential directions in the search for the “best practice” of Danish and other non-native English-speaking university teachers who have lately had to switch to English in transmitting their academic expertise to students of the multicultural and multilingual classroom. This case study concerns Danish university teachers' spoken discourse and interaction with students in a Danish-language versus English-language classroom. The data are video recordings of classroom interaction at the University of Roskilde, Denmark. The focus is on the relationship between linguistic-pragmatic performance and academic authenticity for university teachers teaching courses in both English and Danish, based on recent sociolinguistic concepts such as “persona,” “stylization,” and “authenticity.” The analysis suggests that it is crucial for teachers' ability to authenticate themselves through appropriate communicative strategies that teacher and students share some relevant cultural frames of reference, and that limitations in teachers' use of appropriate communicative strategies may impede their authenticity, affecting their academic authority.
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Keywords: Danish higher education; English as lingua franca; authenticity; internationalization; sociolinguistics; stylization; teacher identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Culture and Identity, Roskilde University,

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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