Main Article Content

Ali Karakas


As universities attempt to change their medium of instruction from the local languages to English and become more international by recruiting international students and teaching staff, their academic English language policies and practices appear to be more prominent. The use of English in higher education as the medium of instruction and the increasing cultural and linguistic mixture on campuses make EMI universities a fruitful ground to explore issues of language policy and practice. This paper explores the academic English language policies and practices of three EMI universities in Turkey. Applying a combination of qualitative content analysis and negative analysis, I seek to find out institutions’ overall orientation to English in their policy documents. The analysis shows that English is overtly pronounced as the official language of the institutions, yet the kind of English required remains considerably covert. However, the analysis of policy mechanisms further indicate that each university orients to a particular standard (native) English by implication as the appropriate kind of academic English. Additionally, such normative orientations seem to be guided by several dynamically intertwined ideologies. These results suggest that language-wise, universities’ academic language policies are in need of immediate and drastic revision.

Article Details

Author Biography

Ali Karakas, Meehmet Akif Ersoy University

Ali Karakaş is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Foreign Language Education, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Burdur, Turkey.  His research interests include ELF, language policy and planning, and language teacher education.


Aguilar, M. & Rodriguez, R. (2012). Lecturer and student perceptions on CLIL at a Spanish university. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(2), 183–197.

Aguilar, M. (2015). Engineering lecturers’ views on CLIL and EMI. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 18, 1–14, doi:10.1080/13670050.2015.1073664

Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2006). Language and the experience of learning university physics in Sweden. European Journal of Physics, 27(3) 553-560.

Airey, J. (2012). I don’t teach language: The linguistic attitudes of physics lecturers in Sweden. AILA Review, 25, 64-79.

Altbach, P. G. & Knight, J. (2007). The Internationalization of higher education: Motivations and realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3/4), 290–305. doi:10.1177/1028315307303542

Arik, B. T. & Arik, E. (2014). The role and status of English in Turkish higher education. English Today, 30(4), 5–10. doi:10.1017/S0266078414000339

Arkın, E. & Osam, N. (2015). English-medium higher education. A case study in a Turkish university context. In S. Dimova., A. K. Hultgren & C. Jensen (Eds.), English-medium instruction in European higher education (pp. 177-200). Berlin: Mouton.

Arkın, I. E. (2013). English-medium instruction in higher education: A case study in a Turkish university context (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, North Cyprus.

Baker, W., & Hüttner, J. (2016). English and more: a multisite study of roles and conceptualisations of language in English medium multilingual universities from Europe to Asia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 46(32), 1–16.

Ball, B. & Lindsay, D. (2013). Language demands and support for English medium instruction in tertiary education: Learning from a specific context. In A. Doiz., D. Lasagabaster & J. M. Sierra (Eds.), English-medium instruction at universities: Global challenges (pp. 44-61). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Berg, B.L. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Björkman, B. (2008). “So where we are?” Spoken lingua franca English at a technical university in Sweden. English Today, 24(2), 35–41. doi:10.1017/S0266078408000187

Björkman, B. (2014). Language ideology or language practice? An analysis of language policy documents at Swedish universities. Multilingua, 33(3-4). doi:10.1515/multi-2014-0016

Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J. (1994). Introduction: Language and the relationship to language in the teaching situation. In P. Bourdieu, J.-C. Passeron & M. de Saint Martin (Eds.), Academic discourse (pp. 1-34). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Byun, K., Chu, H., Kim, M., Park, I., Kim, S., & Jung, J. (2010). English-medium teaching in Korean higher education: Policy debates and reality. Higher Education, 62(4), 431-449.

Coleman, J. A. (2006). English-medium teaching in European higher education. Language Teaching, 39(1), 1–14. doi:10.1017/S026144480600320X

Collins, A. B. (2010). English-medium higher education: Dilemma and problems. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, (39), 97–110.

Council of Higher Education. (2018). Yüksekögretim bilgi yönetim sistemi. Ögrenci istatistikleri: Uyruga göre ögrenci sayıları (Higher education information management system. Student statistics: The number of students by nationality. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from

Dearden, J. (2014). English as a medium of instruction – a growing global phenomenon: phase 1 Interim report (pp. 1–8). Oxford: British Council. Retrieved from

Dearden, J. (2015). English as a medium of instruction a growing global phenomenon. (pp. 1-34) Oxford: British Council. Retrieved from

Doğançay-Aktuna, S. (1998). The spread of English in Turkey and its current sociolinguistic profile. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 19(1), 5-32.

Doiz, A., Lasagabaster, D. & Sierra, J. M. (2011). Internationalisation, multilingualism and English-medium instruction. World Englishes, 30(3), 345-359. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2011.01718.x

Doiz, A., LAsagabaster, D. & Sierra, J. M. (2013). Future challenges for English-medium instruction at the tertiary level. In A. Doiz, D. Lasagabaster, & J. M. Sierra (Eds.), English-medium instruction at universities: Global Challenges (pp. 213-221). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

European Ministers of Education. (1999). The Bologna declaration of 19 June 1999 [PDF document]. Retrieved from European Higher Education area Website

Greenbaum, S. (1996). The Oxford English grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gülle, T., Özata, H. & Bayyurt, Y. (2014, September). The perceptions and attitudes of university students and instructors towards English medium instruction (EMI) in Turkey. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference of English as a Lingua Franca, Athens, Greece.

Hall, C. J. (2014). Moving beyond accuracy: from tests of English to tests of ‘Englishing’. ELT Journal, 68(4), 376-385.
Higgs, R. (1987). Crisis and leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, J. (2011). Accommodating (to) ELF in the international university. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(4), 926–936. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2010.05.011

Jenkins, J. (2014). English as a lingua franca in the international university. The politics of academic English language policy. Abingdon, GB: Routledge.

Jensen, C. & Thøgersen, J. (2011). Danish university lecturers’ attitudes towards English as the medium of instruction. Ibérica, 22, 13-33.

Jensen, C., Denver, L., Mees, I. M. & Werther, C. (2011). Students’ and teachers’ self-assessment of English language proficiency in English-medium higher education in Denmark: A questionnaire study. In B. Preisler, I. Klitgård & A. H. Fabricius (Eds.), Language and learning in the international university: From English uniformity to diversity and hybridity, (pp. 19-38). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Jensen, C., Denver, L., Mees, I. M., Werther, C. & Business, C. (2013). Students’ attitudes to lecturers’ English in English-medium higher education in Denmark. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 13(1), 87–112.

Jørgensen, M. W. & Phillips, L. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method, London: Sage.

Karakaş, A. (2017). Students’ perceptions of ‘Good English’ and the underlying ideologies behind their perceptions. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 13(2), 487-509.

Kılıçkaya, F. (2006). Instructors’ attitudes towards English-medium instruction in Turkey. Humanising Language Teaching Online Journal, 8(6). Retrieved from

Kırkgöz, Y. (2005). Motivation and student perception of studying in an English medium university. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 1(1), 101-123.

Kirkpatrick, A. (2011). Internationalization or Englishization: Medium of instruction in today’s universities. Hong Kong Centre for Governance and Citizenship Work, The Hong Kong Institute of Education.

Klaassen, R. & Graaff, E. D. (2001). Facing innovation: Preparing lecturers for English medium instruction in a non-native context. European Journal of Engineering Education, 26(3), 281–289.

Kuteeva, M. & Airey, J. (2013). Disciplinary differences in the use of English in higher education: Reflections on recent language policy developments. Higher Education, 1–17. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9660-6

Ljosland, R. (2010). Teaching through English: Monolingual policy meets multilingual practice. Hermes—Journal of Language and Communication Studies, 45, 99–114.

Luck, L., Jackson, D. & Usher, K. (2006). Case study: A bridge across paradigms. Nursing Inquiry, 13, 103-109.

Marshall, S. (2009). Re-becoming ESL: multilingual university students and a deficit identity. Language and Education, 24(1), 41–56. doi:10.1080/09500780903194044
Mauranen, A. (2003). The corpus of English as lingua franca. TESOL Quarterly, 37(3), 513–527.

Mauranen, A. (2012). Exploring ELF: Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McGroarty, M. (1997). Language policy in the USA: National values, local loyalties, pragmatic pressures. In W. Eggington & H. Wren (Eds.), Language policy: Dominant English, pluralist challenges (pp. 67 90). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Pauwels, L. (2012). A multimodal framework for analyzing websites as cultural expressions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 17(3), 247–265.

Phillipson, R. (2012). Some partner languages are more equal than others. In Forum International de Bamako sur le multilinguisme: “Une première étape vers un Sommet Mondial sur le Multilinguisme”, Bamako, Mali, 19-21 janvier 2009, Actes du Forum. (pp. 139-151). Bamako: Académie Africaine des Langues.
Pilkinton-Pihko, D. (2010) English as a lingua franca lecturers’ self-perceptions of their language use. In A. Mauranen & N. Hynninen (Eds.), Helsinki English Studies, HES Special Issue on English as a Lingua Franca, 6, 58–74.

Preisler, B. (2009). Complementary languages: The national language and English as working languages in European universities. Angles on the English-Speaking World, 9, 10-28.

Rogier, D. (2012). The Effect of English-medium instruction on language proficiency of students enrolled in HE in the UAE. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

Saarinen, T. & Nikula, T. (2013). Implicit policy, invisible language: Policies and practices of international degree programs in Finnish higher education. In A. Doiz, D. Lasagabaster, & J. M. Sierra (Eds.), English-medium instruction at universities: Global challenges (pp. 131-150). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. London: Sage.

Sert, N. (2000). Ingilizce dil yeterliligi ile akademik basarı arasındaki iliski. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey.

Shohamy, E. (2006). Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. London: Routledge.

Shohamy, E. (2013). A critical perspective on the use of English as a medium of instruction at universities. In A. Doiz, D. Lasagabaster, & J. M. Sierra (Eds.), English medium instruction at universities: Global challenges (pp. 196-210). Bristol: Multilingual Matters

Somer, S. (2001). The Role of English medium instruction in engineering and architecture courses at Anadolu university (Master’s thesis). University of Bilkent, Ankara, Turkey.
Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spolsky, B. (2009). Language management. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taguchi, N. (2014). English-medium education in the global society. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 52(2), 89–98. doi:10.1515/iral-2014-0004

Turner, Y. & Robson, S. (2008). Internationalizing the university. London: Continuum Intl. Pub. Group

Wächter, B. & Maiworm, F. (2008). English-language-taught degree programmes in European higher education. The Picture in 2007. Bonn: Lemmens Medien.

Wächter, B. & Maiworm, F. (Eds.). (2014). English-taught programmes in European higher education: The state of play in 2014. ACA papers on international cooperation in education. Bonn: Lemmens Medien.

Wilkinson. R. (2013). English-medium instruction at a Dutch University: Challenges and pitfalls. In A. Doiz, D. Lasagabaster, & J. M. Sierra (Eds.), English-medium instruction at universities: Global challenges (pp. 3-24). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Woodfield, S. (2010). “Europe.” In E. Egron-Polak & R. Hudson (Eds.), Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Trends, Regional Perspectives, (pp. 170–178). Paris: International Association of Universities 3rd Global Survey Report.

Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research, design and methods (3rd ed., vol. 5). Thousand Oaks: Sage.