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Students’ perceptions among foreign languages in the EHEA

M. Isabel Sanchez-Hernandez (Department of Business Management and Sociology, University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain)
Dolores Gallardo-Vazquez (Department of Financial Economy and Accounting, University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain)
Beatriz Corchuelo Martinez-Azua (Department of Economics, University of Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 2 September 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the students’ opinion on their proficiency in one or more foreign languages, and the importance they attribute to their foreign language competence because the adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) implies the promotion of the mobility of teachers and students.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative and quantitative approach conducted at the University of Extremadura in Spain. The method used was to triangulate the data resulting from three quite different procedures: promoting the participating students’ awareness of the issue through a seminar on the importance of mastering other languages and their relevance for graduate employability; inquiring into the students’ impressions when receiving an English class with a focus group; and a questionnaire on their opinions about the importance of proficiency in foreign languages.

Findings

The findings highlight how teaching in English in European universities could bring real opportunities for the development of the EHEA. Furthermore, the development of foreign languages competences have to be a priority line of innovation in higher education in order to build a more meaningful relationship between education institutions and the European project.

Research limitations/implications

The study is a first attempt to analyse the need to teach in English in European higher education institutions. Results are not completely generalizable because the study has been conducted in one university, in the field of social sciences in the branch of Economics and Business, and it has been examined only the views of students.

Originality/value

The paper draws attention to the need for, and suggestions on how higher education institutions can be more aware to the needs of developing studentś English competences when designing programmes in the EHEA.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was funded under the Teaching Innovation Groups program, by the Service of Orientation and Teacher Training in our university. The authors are grateful also for the support given by the Regional Authorities through the aid groups listed as GRU09007 and the Regional Research Project PRI08A055.

Citation

Isabel Sanchez-Hernandez, M., Gallardo-Vazquez, D. and Corchuelo Martinez-Azua, B. (2014), "Students’ perceptions among foreign languages in the EHEA", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 205-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-07-2013-0031

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited