Learning a /through a foreign language in higher education: employers’ and students’ perceptions

  • Margarida Morgado Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Escola Superior de Educação, Castelo Branco, Portugal
  • Luís Vicente Gómez Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Escola Superior de Educação, Castelo Branco, Portugal
  • Marcelo Calvete Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Escola Superior de Educação, Castelo Branco, Portugal
Keywords: Foreign languages in Higher Education, intercultural communicative competence, employers’ perceptions, students’ perceptions, CLIL

Abstract

Introduction: Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are allegedly preparing students for a globalized working area where people will need to be ready to communicate effectively in one or more foreign languages in international working environments, which puts a lot of pressure on how foreign languages (FL) are learned in Higher Education (HE).

Methods: This article explores how a FL or learning through a FL could be approached in HEI, focusing mainly on what employers claim in terms of skills of recent graduates or on-the-job workers. Case studies are used, combining interviews to employers and questionnaires to HE students to find out their perceptions on FL learning requirements for greater employability.

Conclusions: A series of recommendations are made for HEI on how to promote students’ employability skills; on the best practices for the development of intercultural communicative competence and FL skills to communicate effectively in international or digitally-mediated working environments; as well as on how to prepare the teaching staff for emerging trends that involve using a FL as medium of instruction or CLIL, a content and language integrated approach. These testify to the importance of learning a FL or through a FL, as well as the need to combine transversal skills development in connection to FL learning.

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Published
2019-06-07
Section
Education and Social Development Sciences