International schools and ELF usage

In this section we describe the make-up and language background of international schools. We then focus on UWCs, describing ELF usage in the schools using data from a research study carried out in 2012 and 2013 (Quinn Novotna, Grosser and Dunkova 2013).

International schools - qualifications, language policies

International schools are not easily defined (see Wilkinson 1998). They are generally characterised in terms of 'multinational composition' (Hayden and Thompson 2004: 28) and described as 'market actors' whose 'stage is becoming increasingly global' (Hayden and Thompson 2004: 9). The history of international schools is connected with post-WWII developments and the globalisation trends that have characterised the last three to four decades. The International Schools Association (ISA), created in 1951 and based in Geneva, was 'one of the earliest attempts to incorporate supranationality' (Hayden and Thompson 2004: 9).

International schools can only function as international schools thanks to a shared linguistic code. This has been facilitated by the rise of English as a global language (Crystal 1997) and/or a global lingua franca. In the 1950s, however, the perception and spread of English was far different from what it is now or even what it was 20 years ago. Nowadays, even though regional LFs may be utilised at certain institutions, the role of English as a dominant institutional language at international schools is unshakable and is indeed one of the vehicles of globalisation (see also Wallace 2002; Dewey 2007; Gnutzmann and Intemann 2008; Coupland 2010; Saxena and Omoniyi 2010). With the growing number of international schools operating in English there is now an urgent need to research the role of English at these institutions (see, e.g., Hayden and Thompson 2013; Mahboob and Barratt 2014).

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