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Bilingual Scientific Literacy? The Use of English in Swedish University Science Courses

Authors:

John Airey ,

Kalmar University College, SE
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Cedric Linder

Uppsala University, SE
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Abstract

A direct consequence of the Bologna declaration on harmonisation of European education has been an increase in the number of courses taught in English at Swedish universities. A worrying aspect of this development is the lack of research into the effects on disciplinary learning that may be related to changing the teaching language to English in this way. In fact, little is known at all about the complex inter-relationship between language and learning. In this article we attempt to map out the types of parameters that our research indicates would determine an appropriate language mix in one section of Swedish higher education—natural science degree courses. We do this from the perspective of the overall goal of science education, which we suggest is the production of scientifically literate graduates. Here we introduce a new term, bilingual scientific literacy to describe the particular set of language-specific science skills that we hope to foster within a given degree course. As an illustration of our constructs, we carry out a simple language audit of thirty Swedish undergraduate physics syllabuses, listing the types of input provided for students and the types of production expected from students in both languages. We use this information to map out an ‘implied student’ for the courses with respect to bilingual scientific literacy. The article finishes by identifying issues for further research in this area.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.105
How to Cite: Airey, J. and Linder, C., 2008. Bilingual Scientific Literacy? The Use of English in Swedish University Science Courses. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 7(3), pp.145–161. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.105
Published on 01 Sep 2008.

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