Globalization, Internationalization, and English for Academic Purposes

Kimberley Brown
Portland State University
Guest blog post

Many campuses in the US and Canada have formalized comprehensive internationalization plans that call for increased numbers of international students on campuses, augmented numbers of outbound study abroad students, and expanded partnerships with universities around the world. International Studies Programs may have a unique role to play in these efforts on their respective campuses. If you have an ESL program for incoming international students, you may want to consider an on-campus partnership that allows advanced ESL students to use the academic theme of globalization in their courses and to collaborate with your students in your classes.

Recently two former students (who both completed their BAs in International Studies and their MAs in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) decided to use our textbook in Japan and Mexico for advanced level students in their English for Academic Purposes courses. Another MA student, heading off to teach EAP in Germany for a year, chose to work through basic globalization concepts covered in our introductory course and to write a brief reflection on the link between globalization and English for Academic Purposes. His goal in Germany is to introduce globalization concepts in his high level academic English courses that he will be teaching. Chen (2012) looks at the ability of the content area of globalization to serve as a way to introduce students, who are a few terms away from becoming matriculated students at their respective institutions, to the discourse of higher education.

Chun suggests that students may have difficulties dealing with some of the complexities of globalization but that it is well worth the effort. As Mitchell (2015) notes in an unpublished course paper “[F]or [language]teachers who might identify as reflective observers or transformative intellectuals, it is important to consider that the discourse surrounding international studies and globalization can be empowering or intellectually stimulating for students and…may [help them] develop critical thinking skills that will help them for future study, even if they are not considering a liberal arts of humanities degree.”

The cultural globalization chapter in the textbook looks specifically at what we call “flows of people and flows of information”. The chapter examines not only international student flows but also the economic commodification of these flows in a way that promotes dialogue among U.S./Canadian and international students.

For most U.S. and Canadian students, international student presence on their campuses is neither examined from an economic perspective nor from an intercultural learning perspective. Most North American students are unaware of the economics of the international student exchange; in contrast, administrators at their institutions and often legislators in their state and provincial governments are quick to calculate the benefits of having international students on campus. Globalization occurs in multiple classroom sites yet is often unexplored as a way for individuals to learn more about each other.

Consider having coffee with one of your colleagues who teaches English to speakers of other languages on your campus. Their advanced level students are in an excellent academic position to work with globalization concepts and to share their observations as international students on U.S. and Canadian campuses in International Studies classes. If your campus has partnerships with particular universities around the world, consider exploring whether advanced level English language classes at these locations would consider introducing globalization as a content area in their curriculum. See whether you can further develop levels of collaboration.


Chun, C. (2012) . The multimodalities of globalization: Teaching a YouTube video in an EAP classroom. Research in the Teaching of English. 47/2, 145-170.

Mitchell, J. (2015). Globalization in the EAP Classroom: A Critical Argument for the Teaching of International Studies. Unpublished course paper. Portland State University.

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