Different positions on language use

Roughly simplifying, there are two types of arguments concerning languages in the academia. One of them is stressing the need for more English due to increasing internationalization. Another approach is increasingly concerned with the status of national languages, their diminishing use in some areas of the academic practice. These approaches clarify use of languages in a different way: while English is advocated through the instrumental approach to language (stressing the improved communication opportunities, the need to accommodate foreign scholars and students), discussion about maintenance of national languages is based on symbolic approach, importance of language for culture and societal outreach.

Neither of these approaches could be widely applied in in its pure form; they would create a gridlock for the development of higher education. Research shows that international students and scholars are not the proponents of the “English-only” approach, they also benefit from the presence of multiple languages on campus. Those advocating for the protection of the national languages also acknowledge the international nature of science and the need to publish in English. However, both of these positions overlook multilingualism, do not address the inclusion of minority and migrant languages. English certainly suppresses the use of other languages and diminishes the impact of multilingualism brought up by internationalization. National languages, however, also have power over minority languages; their protection does not create much room for the inclusion of other languages.

There might be a more nuanced position considering use multiple languages, their power in teaching, societal communication, and different aspects of research (irrespective of their status). It would be also interesting to see the middle ground in the real-life compromises, justifications, and raising awareness of where languages exclude people and create problematic practices.