The Role of Language

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The Role of Language in the International Classroom

This module focuses on the role of language and language diversity in the multilingual/multicultural classroom. It addresses the impact (benefits and constraints) of the use of a second language on teaching and learning in international classroom settings in Higher Education by taking into account the diversity of students’ and teachers’ first languages and backgrounds.

The module first looks at the impact of language on the dynamics of the multilingual classroom. Participants examine how language structures teaching and learning. They are asked to identify and discuss the different functions of language in the classroom. They also reflect on and rank support strategies which can be used to accommodate for language diversity.

The notions of communicative competence and the use of English as a lingua franca are introduced. Disciplinary literacy is discussed to raise awareness of the effects it will have on teaching methodologies and the language skills required.

Finally, activities and prompts encourage participants to reflect on and discuss language issues in their own local contexts by collaborating and sharing ideas.

The Role of Language in the International Classroom allows participants to build upon concepts introduced in Introduction to the International Classroom. The participants are given the opportunity to reflect upon the clarity of expectations and objectives, integral to their course design. These notions are also explored in Internationalising Course Design. Participants discuss and experiment with language strategies which lead to inclusive, interactive group work as seen in Intercultural Group Dynamics. Time is provided for participants to reflect upon their experience and their own institutional contexts.

The module is one of five such units in the EQUiiP Programme for educational developers, but may also be organised as a stand-alone one-day workshop for a wider audience.

In the full EQUiiP programme, participants have the opportunity to apply the content of this workshop to the issues described in their own cases. Part of this application takes place in the workshops on Feedback & Reflective Processes.

If this module is a stand-alone one-day workshop, there are further resources that facilitate participants’ application of the content to their own local contexts.

Target Group

The target groups for this module are educational developers (EDs) as well as senior staff such as directors of study, course coordinators, and other leadership team members responsible for international programmes in their higher education institutions.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this module, participants should be able to:

  • identify the language management strategies deployed by teachers and students in intercultural multilingual classrooms;
  • develop strategies in teachers which balance/compensate for language diversity;
  • identify the impact of disciplinary discourse on language use and learning assessment;
  • draw upon multilingual repertoires and practices of learners and teachers as a resource for intercultural teaching and learning.


If this module is organised as the first of five in the full EQUiiP Certification Programme, it may be completed as a workshop within 4.5 hours (3 x 1.5 hours plus preparation). It may also be organised as a stand-alone workshop with (preferably) 2 x 3 hours.


In the right-hand menu you will find a thematic introduction to this module, suggested preparation, and workshop activities, including videos to be used for introduction and wrap up, and further resources.