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Implications of Student Linguistic Repertoires for Teaching English in University

Tatjana Bicjutko, Liga Belicka
University of Latvia, Latvia

Abstract. Despite the emphasis on the promotion of pluricultural/plurilingual skills clearly stated in the European Union (EU) policy (EC 2007, 2018), there is no evident concern for plurilingual awareness in many universities. Although studies on active multilingualism initially dealt with general education (see, e. g. European Centre of Modern Languages activities), there has been a growing research and initiatives with the focus on tertiary education system and the emphasis on methodological interventions. Since intercultural education has long been an EU priority (EC 2002), it is pertinent to address linguistic repertoires of students currently enrolled in the tertiary programmes and their implications for teaching foreign languages. Thus, the research object is linguistic repertoires of students currently studying at the University of Latvia (UL). Using language portraits as a research method with students in medicine and biotechnology in the context of English for Specific Purposes, and 3 philological programmes in the context of language studies respectively, the research aims at answering the following questions:

  • How do UL students position English among other languages in their repertoire?
  • Is there any difference between the positioning of English for students in different programmes?
  • What are methodological implications for teaching English at the tertiary level?

The obtained data demonstrate instrumental significance of English and reveal variation in language repertoires of students in humanities and sciences as well as some minor differences among programmes. Overall, the results support the claim for addressing the so far underemployed plurilingual competence in teaching languages in university. The success of the language portrait activity as a tool to probe individual language biographies and intercultural dynamics of study groups as well as the discovered plurilingualism of the UL students suggest the necessity in modelling special tasks for raising and employing tertiary students’ plurilingual awareness in a professionally meaningful manner.

Keywords: English for Specific Purposes, language portrait, linguistic repertoire, plurilingual awareness, tertiary education

In: Human, Technologies and Quality of Education, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Cilvēks, tehnoloģijas un izglītības kvalitāte, 2022. Rakstu krājums
Riga, University of Latvia, 2022. 1135 p. Ed. L. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-18-911-1