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Public debates on the Englishization of education in Germany: A critical discourse analysis

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Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of Language Policy
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Jan 2018
DatePublished (current) - 14 Apr 2018
Issue number1
Number of pages38
Pages (from-to)39-76
Original languageEnglish


Germany has embraced the “craze for English” relatively readily (Wächter and Maiworm
2014), increasing the use of English in education in all forms: as a foreign language, as
medium of instruction, and in content and language integrated learning: a phenomenon
described as Englishization. However, much controversy remains over the pace, manner
and degree with which English is taught in Germany.
This article investigates how the topic of Englishization in education – in the broadest
sense – and in all sectors (from primary to tertiary sector) is discussed in printed German
media. Using the database Nexis, a dataset comprised of 156 German language news
articles on the controversies around English in the German education system was
established. The dataset includes news outlets with national as well as regional coverage,
and spans the period from 1 February 2000 to 23 March 2017.
Corpus linguistics methods (frequencies, concordances) and thematic discourse
analysis were used to analyse the body of the texts. The results were compared across
educational sectors covered, and the level of geographical coverage of the newspaper/
source (regional, federal). The discussion considers how debates around Englishization
in education vary depending on the education sector. Results are interpreted within
the context of a) contested jurisdictions pertaining to language education in Germany
(especially sovereignty of the 16 Bundesländer to determine their education policy, i.e.
Kulturhoheit) b) tensions between institutional (school, university), individual (staff,
students), national and international agendas (e.g. Bologna, the European aim of mother
tongue+2 language skills) c) tensions between attitudes of protectionism (bordering
on reminiscence) towards the German language on the one hand, and pragmatism and
internationalism on the other.

    Research areas

  • Discourse analysis, Englishization, German education system, Language learning, Länder

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