The relevance of English language studies in higher education

Authored by: Ann Hewings

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter contextualises the position of English language studies (ELS) in higher education, and offers a view on why it is a relevant and important area of study and research in the 21st century, arguing that ELS is particularly well placed to promote informed critical reflection and has the methodological tools to interrogate complexity in an interconnected world. The position of ELS in UK universities, often tied in with English literature, is contrasted with institutions elsewhere where it may be integrated into other discipline areas such as linguistics, rhetoric, or communications, or taught as a foreign language often in combination with other subjects. Technology and power are two of the major themes in looking at current developments in ELS. Technology influences the language itself, ways of researching language, and language teaching. English and power not only examines the role of English internationally, but crucially, in an era of increasingly accessible ‘information’, it develops the ability to interrogate language systematically. For the future, the role of language in a wider multimodal understanding of communication provides scope for creativity and the interrogation of the concept of discrete languages in a multilingual future.

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