Panel 3 | Language education & ideologies

CADAAD2022 | 06-08/07/2022 | Bergamo, Italy

38 | Xiaoli Yu

Linguistic variation in English-medium MOOC video lectures: Comparisons across countries and disciplines

In higher education, different from traditional university courses, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) largely eliminate gate-keeping requirements, which leads to a substantially large and diverse international audience. Possibly boosted by the global pandemic in 2020, there has been a rapid increase in the number of MOOCs worldwide. Empirical research on MOOCs is needed more than ever to provide insights for the further development of MOOCs and achieve effective distance teaching and learning.

Based on Biber’s (1988) multi-dimensional analysis framework, this study investigated two major research questions, including (1) how did the linguistic features of the target English-medium MOOC video lectures vary across China, Malaysia, and the US? (2) how did the linguistic features of the target video lectures vary across the four disciplines (i.e., Arts and Humanities, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences)? A total number of 943 video lectures were compiled as the corpus of one million words. The corpus was examined through the Multidimensional Analysis Tagger (MAT; Nini, 2019) to receive the dimensional scores and the comparisons between sub-corpora were conducted via ANOVAs. The results suggested substantial linguistic variation across countries and disciplines. Across the countries, MOOCs offered by the US were the most involved, situation-dependent, and spontaneous; whereas MOOCs from Chinese universities demonstrated the most informational, narrative, explicit, planned, while the least involved, situation-dependent, and persuasive features. MOOCs from Malaysia revealed more persuasive and abstract features. Cross-disciplinarily, MOOCs in Arts and Humanities presented the most involved, narrative, concrete, and spontaneous features, while the field of Life Sciences displayed the opposite features. Lectures in Physical Sciences were more likely to be non-narrative, situation-dependent, and persuasive, while lectures in Social Sciences revealed contrasting features. The study further analyzed possible reasons leading to the variation and implications of the findings on improving the instructional language of English-medium MOOC video lectures.

53 | Kerry McKeon

Naming Practices in Neoliberal Education Political Speech:The Rhetoric of Former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

This study investigates the naming practices used in the speeches and public statements of former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (2017–2020), as she called up various actors when promoting her neoliberal educational agenda. Using discourse analysis, I explore naming practices as a way to structure our reality, to reflect to others our conception of the world, and to highlight the role names play in shaping political and cultural outcomes. I detail how certain micro-level linguistic features impact individual and societal conceptualizations of education, which, in turn, inform macro-level educational narratives, policies, and practices.

Context of the Study

Education-policy discourse comprises competing visions of education, as expressed by scholars, analysts, and policymakers alike. However, some viewpoints ring louder than others. Voices of political figures are some of the most influential, as they benefit from larger platforms and mass-media amplification. Indeed, over the past few decades, certain voices sought to challenge education as a public good, instead positioning schools within the domain of the free market. That is to say, the field of education has been subsumed by a broader, global neoliberal project. The speeches delivered by Secretary Betsy DeVos during her tenure as Education Secretary from 2017–2020 strategically frame actors in the education policy space. Using the tools of critical discourse analysis, this study explores the naming strategies employed by DeVos.

Data Collection

To understand the naming practices of political and institutional actors, I will undertake a detailed analysis Secretary DeVos’s speeches and public statements generated by the U.S. Department of Education from 2017–2020. Data for this study include a selection 28 texts out of a corpus of 68 accessible on the U.S. Department of Education website and in the public domain. The rationale behind this corpus is to investigate how the U.S. Department of Education under DeVos constructed an orientation towards the private sector and presented neoliberal ideas and values as natural and legitimate. The analysis focuses on naming practices that contribute to the legitimation of corporate reform in U.S. public education.

141 | Agnes Bodis

An objective measure? The discursive construction of English language proficiency as university admission requirement

This paper investigates the representation of English language proficiency as a university admission requirement. Any university admission process involves measuring applicants against some norm or criteria. In many internationalized higher education contexts, language proficiency forms part of the criteria with English language proficiency being in the focus in Anglophone countries and contexts where English is a medium of education.

The need for universities to attract international students as a financial and as a quality incentive via increased reputation is counter-balanced by the need for admission requirements for quality control. This is particularly salient as, for instance in Australia, the adequacy of international students’ English language proficiency levels is problematized (Murray, 2016) and represented in a deficit view in public debates and the media (Bodis, 2021). Therefore, English language proficiency admission requirements need to be communicated by universities in an objective manner.

This paper focuses on the research question: how is English language proficiency discursively constructed as a university admission requirement? It is examined through the context of Australian higher education, where the presence/absence of international students have gained a heightened focus due to near two years of border closures. The study applies Critical Discourse Analysis as an overarching approach to data collected from Australian Group of Eight universities. These universities are the oldest and largest ones in Australia with high international student enrolment as well as a heavy focus on research. The data comes from 22 webpages and web documents on the websites of these eight universities and is multimodal in nature, including text, tables, pictures, and videos.

Findings indicate two opposing construction of English language proficiency. On the one hand, it is essentialized as a fixed entity linked to country of origin or heritage. On the other, it is represented as sitting outside of the speaker and conceptualized as a time-bound test score. These two conceptualizations are not only different but are also in a hierarchical relationship: the first is a trait of the applicant while the latter needs to be proven over and over again. The paper questions the objectivity that university admission requirements strive to convey and draws the attention to institutional legislation reinforcing and reproducing dominant discourses. This is achieved through the analytical lens of language as symbolic capital and a site of distinction (Bourdieu, 1977) and linguistic inclusion (Piller, 2016). The talk presents implications related to both representation and university practice.


Bodis, A. (2021). The discursive (mis)representation of English language proficiency: international students in the Australian media. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 44(1), 37-64.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). The economics of linguistic exchanges. Social Science Information, 16(6), 645-668.

Murray, N. (2016). Standards of English on higher education: Issues, challenges and strategies. Cambridge University Press.

Piller, I. (2016). Linguistic diversity and social justice: An introduction to applied sociolinguistics Oxford University Press.

196 | Maighread Tobin

Disrupting a Settled Norm: Literacy and Irishness

The norm of full literacy is firmly entrenched in Irish society, creating the expectation that all Irish adults are fully literate. Literacy is constructed as an integral part of ‘Irishness’. Those who transgress the norm by having poor literacy risk being marginalized, while illiteracy is considered a property of non-Irish Other groups. The implications of this norm are of consequence when 18% of the adult Irish population have low levels of literacy (OECD 2013).

My presentation draws from the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD) to explore the role of literacy as a component of Irishness. This approach integrates Foucault’s conceptualisation of discourse with Berger and Luckmann’s social constructionist perspective. SKAD considers social knowledge relations, the politics of knowledge, and power effects (Keller 2011).

In response to Foucault’s contention that the past offers a guide to the present, the data comprises documents relating to education produced during the 1930s and 1940s in Ireland. State education reports and conference proceedings provide access to a 'public discourse of literacy' evident at national and international level, while publications from teacher unions demonstrate a 'special discourse of literacy' that circulated within this limited arena. The public discourse constructs the illiterate person as a disruptive force that justifies exclusion, while the special discourse acknowledges that the illiterate person can contribute to society. These discourses co-existed, but the public discourse prevailed while the special discourse was subdued.

The analysis situates these discourses within their socio-historical settings. Their material aspects are examined in relation to discursive events, actors, practices, dispositifs, and knowledge structuring (Keller 2011). Attention is focused on the knowledge configuration, discursive production, and power effects of these literacy discourses from the past. The study aims to to challenge the prevailing norm of full literacy by disentangling the discursive connections made between literacy and Irishness.

277 | Kristína Rankovová

Representations of Inequality in the Global Education Discourse: A Critical Reading of Slovak Global Education

In the last few decades, global education (GE), framed as a pedagogical tool that can effectively address globalization and the interdependences and inequalities it creates, has been increasingly promoted by (inter)national organizations. But, as postcolonial and critical readings of global education warn, when seen as normative or neutral and thus unexamined, GE may reproduce (un)acknowledged assumptions and prejudices about the world, engaging in harmful hierarchizations and depoliticizations of existing inequalities (e.g., Pashby, 2016; Swanson and Gamal, 2021; Pashby and Andreotti, 2015; Bendix, Danielzik, and Kiesel, 2015; Andreotti, 2011; Bryan and Bracken, 2011). And while these studies make strong theoretical and conceptual claims, they are – to a large extent – devoid of any systematic analyses of empirical data that would back them up. Thus, the main objective of this study is to find out how are the inequalities represented in the discourse of GE by bridging the existing theoretical and conceptual postcolonial literature about GE with a systematic method of data analysis. By using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) proposed by Theo van Leeuwen (2008) who proposes a set of analytical tools to analyze the socio-semantic representations of social actors, I aim to find out how are the theoretical concepts of hierarchization and depoliticization of inequalities translated into concrete discursive strategies. This CDA is applied on relevant GE textbooks and semi-structured interviews with teachers that teach GE in Slovakia about which neither discourse analysis nor postcolonial analysis of GE has been conducted as of yet. The results show that the inequalities in the GE discourse are mainly maintained by the discursive strategies of passivation, objectification, impersonalization, and generalization of the “Other”, while the “Self” is portrayed as active, personalized, and specified subject.


Andreotti, V. (2011). Actionable Postcolonial Theory in Education. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bendix, D., Danielzik, C. Kiesel, T.. (2015). Education for sustainable inequality? A postcolonial analysis of materials for Development Education in Germany. Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, 9(2), 47-63.

Bryan, A. and Bracken, M. (2011). Learning to Read the World? Teaching and Learning about Global Citizenship and International Development in Post-Primary Schools. Irish Aid/Identikit.

Pashby, K. (2016). Global, Citizenship, and Education as Discursive Fields: Towards Disrupting the Reproduction of Colonial Systems of Power. In I. Langran, and T. Birk, Globalization and Global Citizenship: Interdisciplinary Approaches (pp. 1-34). Routledge.

Pashby, K. and Andreotti, V. (2015). Critical Global Citizenship in Theroy and Practice - Rationales and Approaches for an Emerging Agenda. In J. Harshman, T. Augustine, and M. M. Merryfield, Research in Global Citizenship Education (pp. 9-34). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Swansom, D. M. and Gamal, M. (2021). Global Citizenship Education/Learning for Sustainability: tensions, ‘flaws’, and contradictions as critical moments of possibility and radical hope in educating for alternative futures. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 19(4), 456-469.

van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice: and New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford University Press.

286 | Katiuska Oyarzún

Agency in a new reality: The roles of educators and students in emergency contexts

In Chile, and in many developing countries, the pandemic amplified the already existing inequalities. Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, educational stakeholders at all levels had to quickly adapt to changes in the means of instruction, towards an emergency online mode (Hodges et al., 2020). For countries like Chile, where this study is based, long-held unequal access to technology was instantly exposed, making us more aware of what needs to be done.

The pandemic scenario strengthened the need for pedagogies of connection (Carter et al. 2021) and the importance of creating communities that can support each other and that encourage critical reflection in our teaching practices. Moreover, the literature has emphasized the importance of autonomy and agency in ESL contexts (Yashima & Fukui, 2020) which become even more relevant now that we are facing a new normal.

This study was based on a collaborative autoethnography (Chang, 2013) carried out by three researchers that worked for two years in a summer intensive online ESL course during the terms of 2021 and 2022. The researchers participated as instructors and administrators, and engaged during one year in a reflective process trying to deconstruct their teaching practices and the values and ideologies behind. Based on the importance that concepts of “autonomy” and “agency” have acquired in current times, we decided to use data gathered during teacher discussion sessions and student surveys from two ESL courses, and, using a critical discourse analysis approach (Machin & Mayr, 2012; van Leeuwen, 2008), analyze conceptualizations of agency that arose and explored whether, and if so, how agency-related processes were mentioned in the description of teacher and student work within these intensive English courses.


Carter Andrews, D. J., Richmond, G., & Marciano, J. E. (2021). The Teacher Support Imperative: Teacher Education and the Pedagogy of Connection. Journal of Teacher Education, 72(3), 267–270.

Chang, H. (2013). Individual and Collaborative Autoethnography as Method: A social scientist’s perspective. In S. Holman Jones, T. E. Adams, & C. Ellis (Eds.), Handbook of Autoethnography (pp. 107–119). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press Inc.

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020). The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning. Educause Review.

Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How to do Critical Discourse Analysis. A multimodal introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. New tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford University Press.

Yashima, T. Fukui, H. (2020). Agency in second language acquisition. In A. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

306 | Sarah Horrod

Learning as ‘socially-situated’ and teaching as ‘facilitation’: ideological policy discourses or the ‘new normal’ of teaching and learning in higher education?

The field of ‘learning & teaching’ continues to gain prominence in a UK higher education sector which controversially attempts to measure teaching ‘quality’ (Ashwin, 2017). National and institutional policy on learning & teaching have the potential to shape both what is taught and how. Discourses around ‘co-created’, ‘transformative’ and ‘21st-century’ learning pervade institutional conversations around learning & teaching in UK universities, and increasingly internationally, yet they are rarely questioned. I employ a framework combining Bernstein’s (1990) sociology of pedagogy with the discourse-historical approach (DHA) (Reisigl & Wodak, 2016) of critical discourse studies (CDS) to examine the constructions of ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ in policy discussion documents from the influential organisation charged with improving the quality of teaching in UK higher education, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) [now AdvanceHE]. Overall, there is a focus on learning while teaching, teachers and knowledge are mainly absent. Through detailed textual analysis of documents representing the organisation’s main policy agendas, I identify three ‘discursive strategies’ which contribute to this absence: 1) foregrounding and backgrounding 2) invoking key education thinkers and 3) drawing on a social-constructivist paradigm. I show how such strategies are a response to current dilemmas in higher education and the need to seek to address the ‘student experience’. Through employing Bernstein’s (1990; 2000) notion of recontextualising fields and an analysis of intertextuality and interdiscursivity (Reisigl & Wodak, 2016), I explore how policy discourses have the potential to re-shape our norms. Through policy mechanisms such as teaching accreditation schemes, these ideas can influence institutional values, practices and identities. With recontextualisation occurring at different paces in different contexts (Wodak & Fairclough, 2010), this phenomenon seems particularly prevalent in teaching-focused universities with possible consequences for equity. However, there appears to be the beginning of a questioning of this ‘new normal’, including such discourses of ‘extreme’ student-centredness (McArthur, 2020), for the messages it conveys about students and academics and the consequences for the educational experience which I reflect on in this presentation.


Ashwin, P. (2017). What is the teaching excellence framework in the United Kingdom, and will it work? International Higher Education, 88(10), 10-11.

Bernstein, B. (1990). Class codes and control, volume IV: The structuring of pedagogic discourse. Routledge.

Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique. (revised ed.). Rowman & Littlefield.

McArthur, J. (2020). Bridging near and far perspectives in socially just higher education research. In J. McArthur & P. Ashwin (Eds.), Locating social justice in higher education research (pp. 23-37). Bloomsbury Academic.

Reisigl, M. & Wodak, R. (2016). The discourse-historical Approach (DHA). In R. Wodak and M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of Critical Discourse Studies (3rd ed.) (pp. 23–61). Sage.

Wodak, R. & Fairclough, N. (2010). Recontextualizing European higher education policies: The cases of Austria and Romania. Critical Discourse Studies, 7(1), 19-40.