Over the past 25 years, increasing numbers of higher education institutions in continental Europe have started teaching classes, courses and complete programmes in English. Surveys show that, at the masters level in particular, English has become the main language of instruction. The Netherlands is leading other countries with 70% of all masters courses and 20% of bachelor courses at its research universities offered in English. (Although at Dutch universities of applied sciences, which are larger than the research universities in both number of institutions and students, the percentages are smaller, with 20% of masters and 6% of bachelor courses offered in English.) Other countries where English is an important language of instruction in higher education include Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. We see an increasing use of English in teaching and learning outside of Europe too; for instance, in South Korea.
Teaching in English has always been contested. First from a political point of view, with the argument that shifting from teaching in the local language to teaching in English may endanger the survival of the local language and culture. This argument still prevails, for instance, in Italy and in the current anti-global and anti-Europe climate it will continue to be a factor. But in recent debates in Norway, Germany and the Netherlands, it is less dominant – at least outside the media and social media. The main argument has become that teaching in another language impairs the quality of teaching and limits local students’ ability to participate and compete against the growing number of international students. (Fonte: Hans de Wit, www.universityworldnews.com 01-09-17)