Stockholm university logo, link to start page

Beyza Björkman NylénProfessor

About me

I was educated at Stockholm University, where I received a Ph.D. in 2010 with a dissertation entitled “Spoken Lingua Franca English at a Swedish Technical University: An investigation of form and communicative effectiveness”. I received a grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) in November 2010 for post-doctoral work and was affiliated with Roskilde University CALPIU research center (Cultural and Linguistic Practices in the International University) during the course of the project. At the department, in addition to my teaching and research, I am also the Deputy Head and the chair of the RALV group (Råd för Arbetsmiljö och Lika Villkor), working with my colleagues on work environment and equal opportunities-related issues. 



My teaching through the years has focused primarily on English for Specific/Academic Purposes (ESP/EAP), especially scientific writing for international publication for post-graduate students and researchers from a wide range of disciplines within and outside Stockholm University. At the English Department, I have developed and taught several courses in linguistics for both graduate and undergraduate students, including specialized courses in English as a Lingua Franca, sociolinguistics, pragmatics among others. I am actively involved in graduate and postgraduate supervision and currently have three PhD students I co-supervise. 


Since 2005, I have been doing research on the use of English as the medium of instruction in Swedish higher education and the use of English as an academic lingua franca.

My general research interests include the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) in academic settings, spoken academic discourse in general, English-medium instruction (EMI), language policy, linguistic equality, and language change. My research on ELF focused first on the morphosyntactic description of ELF usage from a international Higher Education setting based on communicative effectiveness, followed by various pragmatic aspects of English as a lingua franca in polyadic lingua franca speech in student-student and student-tutor interaction. The policy implications of my work on ELF and EMI led me to the field of Language Policy. I have carried out several studies on language policy work at Swedish universities, focusing on actual language practices vs language management and planning issues, as well as attitudes towards the use of English as manifested in language policy documents in Swedish higher education.

My more recent publications have focused on the under-researched spoken genre of PhD supervisor-PhD student interactions in supervision meetings, investigating various interactional phenomena, e.g. the expression of disagreement in academic talk, as well as PhD students' knowledge construction practices as negotiated in academic talk. I am currently investigating interactional efforts by PhD students and supervisors in synchronous online supervision, including how co-presence is achieved and how epistemic status is signalled to facilitate understanding during the instructional episodes.  

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • This is not familiar to most people

    2018. Beyza Björkman. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 7 (2), 333-354


    This paper focuses on the under-researched genre of PhD supervision meetings (but see Vehvilainen, Sanna. 2009a. Problems in the research problem: Critical feedback and resistance in academic supervision. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 53[2]. 185-201; Vehvilainen, Sanna. 2009b. Student-initiated advice in academic supervision. Research on Language and Social Interaction 42[2]. 163-190; Bjorkman, Beyza. 2015. PhD supervisor-PhD student interactions in an English-medium Higher Education [HE] setting: Expressing disagreement. European Journal of Applied Linguistics 3[2]. 205-229; Bjorkman, Beyza. 2016. PhD adviser and student interactions as a spoken academic genre. In K. Hyland & P. Shaw [eds.], The Routledge handbook of English for Academic Purposes, 348-361. Oxon: Routledge; Bjorkman, Beyza. 2017. PhD supervision meetings in an English as a Lingua Franca [ELF] setting: Linguistic competence and content knowledge as neutralizers of institutional and academic power. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 6[1]. 111-139) and investigates knowledge construction episodes in PhD students' discussions with their supervisors on their co-authored papers. In these meetings, all supervisors and students use English as their lingua franca (ELF). Such supervision meetings are made up of social negotiation and collaborative sense-making, providing a good base for learning to take place (Vygotsky, L. S. 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), which in the present context is the enculturation of the PhD student into the research community (Manathunga, Catherine. 2014. Intercultural postgraduate supervision: Reimagining time, place and knowledge. New York: Routledge). It is precisely these negotiation and collaborative sense-making practices that the present paper focuses on, in order to investigate knowledge construction practices. While there is an abundance of research in disciplinary knowledge construction and academic literacy practices from cognitive and behavioral sciences, knowledge about novice scholars' knowledge construction practices is scant in applied linguistics (but see Li, Yongyan. 2006. Negotiating knowledge contribution to multiple discourse communities: A doctoral student of computer science writing for publication. Journal of Second Language Writing 15[3]. 159-178). Even less is known about how PhD students may negotiate knowledge construction and engage in meaning-making practices in interaction with their supervisors. The material comprises 11 hours of naturally occurring speech by three supervisors and their students where they discuss the reviewers' comments they have received from the journal. The predominant method employed here is applied conversation analysis (CA) (Richards, Keith & Paul Seedhouse [eds.]. 2005. Applying conversation analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), which includes both local patterns of interaction as well as the tensions between [these] local practices and any 'larger structures' in which these are embedded, such as conventional membership categories, institutional rules, instructions, accounting obligations, etc. (Have, Paul ten. 2007. Doing conversation analysis. London: Sage 199). The analyses here aim to show how the PhD supervisors and students discuss the reviewers' comments with reference to (i) their own disciplinary community of climate science, and (ii) the domestic discourse community of the target journals (see also Li, Yongyan. 2006. Negotiating knowledge contribution to multiple discourse communities: A doctoral student of computer science writing for publication. Journal of Second Language Writing 15[3]. 159-178). The preliminary findings of the analyses show a tendency by the PhD students to focus more heavily on the domestic discourse community of the target journals, especially when justifying their methodological choices. The PhD supervisors, on the other hand, base their meaning-making on the conventions of the disciplinary community of climate science, pointing out broader disciplinary community practices. These findings, highlighting a need to focus on novice scholars' meaningmaking efforts, can be used to inform PhD supervision in general.

    Read more about This is not familiar to most people
  • University language policies in Estonia and Sweden

    2018. Josep Soler, Beyza Björkman, Maria Kuteeva. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 39 (1), 29-43


    As universities seek to become more international, their need to engage with a wider range of languages, particularly English, seems more prominent. At the same time, universities are also regarded by many stakeholders as key institutions to preserve a given national language and culture. This apparent tension makes universities a fruitful ground to explore relevant issues of language policymaking. This paper analyses language policies in higher education in two northern European countries, Sweden and Estonia. Applying qualitative content analytical tools, we tackle the following questions: (1) what major themes emerge from the analysis of institutional language policy documents in Estonia and Sweden? and (2) how is English perceived in relation to other languages? Our analysis shows that, despite their different historical and sociopolitical trajectories, universities in the two countries tend to adopt similar stances vis-à-vis their language policy developments. There also exist, however, different nuances in approaching the language question, which we interpret as being the result of the particular cultural backgrounds of each country.

    Read more about University language policies in Estonia and Sweden
  • PhD supervision meetings in an English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) setting

    2017. Beyza Björkman. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 6 (1), 111-139


    The present paper investigates PhD supervision meetings, using material from naturally occurring speech of ten hours by PhD supervisors and students who all use English as a lingua franca (ELF) for research purposes. The recordings have been transcribed in their entirety, with conversation analytical procedures and additional ethnographic interviews with the PhD supervisors. The present paper is a follow-up to the two previous studies by the author (in European Journal for Applied Linguistics 3[2], 2015, and The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes, 2016) and focuses on linguistic competence and content knowledge as factors possibly mitigating the power asymmetry present in the interactions. The findings show no observable power asymmetries manifested in the interactions or in the interview responses by the supervisors. The analyses showed that the supervisors’ and the students’ level of linguistic competence seemed very similar, which was further supported by the supervisors’ self-reports of their own English and their informal evaluations of their students’ levels of proficiency. When it comes to content knowledge, the students overall showed very good command of their subjects, disciplinary conventions and their projects in general, further supported by their supervisors’ evaluations in the interview data. Based on these findings, it is suggested here that in ELF interactions of this particular type where the speakers have similar levels of linguistic competence and content knowledge, power asymmetries become less visible.

    Read more about PhD supervision meetings in an English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) setting
  • Attitudes towards English in university language policy documents in Sweden

    2015. Beyza Björkman. Attitudes towards English in Europe, 115-138


    The present paper presents a discourse analytic study of the existing language policy documents from nine Swedish universities with regard to attitudes towards English. The discourse of the language policy documents has been studied carefully to investigate how the use of English is mentioned, what main themes it occurs in and what these themes seem to indicate with regard to attitudes towards the use of English in Swedish higher education. Four main themes for English emerge from the results of the investigation: 1) English as an important language that one is required to be proficient in; 2) English is here to stay, but it needs to be used alongside the local language Swedish and other languages where possible, aiming for parallel language use; 3) English poses a threat to Swedish (and other languages); and finally 4) English used in such university settings needs to be plain, comprehensible and intelligible. The theme with the strongest presence in the documents overall is theme 2, which is also explicitly stated in the rules, regulations and guidelines in these documents. Although there are few explicit instances of theme 3 in the data, the strong presence of theme 2 reveals the underlying attitudes in the documents: Swedish as an academic language is under threat and therefore must be “maintained”, “promoted” and “protected”. The results suggest that, despite the everyday language practices (as defined by Spolsky 2004) of the individuals in these higher education settings and which language they need for their everyday tasks, the use of English seems to be encouraged only if it occurs with the local language Swedish.

    Read more about Attitudes towards English in university language policy documents in Sweden
  • Morphosyntactic Variation in Spoken English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)

    2015. Beyza Björkman.


    It is now well-known that in ELF settings, we have complex language contact situations with high linguistic heterogeneity. The linguistic diversity present in ELF settings naturally manifests itself in several areas, including variation in morphosyntactic use. While the conventional wisdom has been that non-standardness is associated with a speaker’s L1, ELF research has shown repeatedly that this variation is not (solely) due to speakers’ L1 backgrounds (e.g. author, 2013a and 2013b; Ranta, 2013), and that there are too many non-standard forms shared by a wide spectrum of L1s that may be considered commonalities. ELF research has revealed several processes of syntactic variation in ELF usage, such as reducing redundancy (e.g. ‘not marking the plural on the noun’, author 2013a), and creating extra explicitness (e.g. ‘unraised negation’ in author 2013a; see Schneider, 2012 for an overview of the processes of variation). When it comes to morphology, similar trends have been observed (author, 2013a), namely non-standard word forms with semantic transparency (e.g. discriminization, levelize), analytic comparatives (e.g. more narrow), and non-standard plurals (e.g. how many energy). The present paper focuses on morphosyntactic variation in 15 hours of naturally-occurring speech from a Swedish higher education setting and reports research conducted by the author (2013a, b and in preparation) where s/he approaches variation in ELF with reference to the World Englishes (WE) paradigm, Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and creole studies. Included in the discussion are other ELF studies on grammatical variation (e.g. Ranta, 2013). Following major studies that problematize variation and variability in ELF usage (e.g. Ferguson, 2009; Schneider, 2012; Seidlhofer, 2009), the present paper aims to offer new perspectives on the theoretical construct of ‘variety’. The paper also argues that WE and ELF paradigms have much to gain from each other (see Seidlhofer, 2009) while addressing the sociolinguistic realities of the world today.

    Read more about Morphosyntactic Variation in Spoken English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)
  • PhD supervisor-PhD student interactions in an English-medium Higher Education (HE) setting

    2015. Beyza Björkman. European Journal of Applied Linguistics 3 (2), 205-229


    According to the latest figures, the increase in English-taught programs in European Higher Education (HE) has been tremendous at a growth rate of 500% since 2002 (Wächter and Maiworm 2014). In all these HE institutes, English serves as the main lingua franca for students and staff. The present paper reports from such a HE setting in Sweden and focuses on how disagreement is expressed in PhD supervisor-PhD student supervision meetings, a spoken genre largely neglected in the study of spoken academic discourse. The material comprises digitally-recorded, naturally-occurring speech adding up to approximately seven hours, all by PhD supervisors and students from different L1 backgrounds, who all use English as a lingua franca. All recordings have been transcribed, and the instances of disagreement have been analysed by a mixed-methods approach, drawing on Conversation Analysis (CA). The results show, first of all, that the PhD students directly construct disagreement with their supervisors on content-related advice despite the academic and institutional power asymmetry present in these interactions. The supervisors, on the other hand, seem to indirectly construct disagreement with their students. It is suggested here that linguistic competence and content knowledge may be two factors mitigating the power asymmetry. Also, the expression of disagreement does not seem to be perceived as confrontational by either the supervisors or students. On the contrary, disagreement seems to be typical of this spoken genre in this setting, implying that it may even be a “preferred second” turn in this spoken genre with reference to the enculturation of the PhD student into the academic community.

    Read more about PhD supervisor-PhD student interactions in an English-medium Higher Education (HE) setting
  • An analysis of polyadic lingua franca speech

    2014. Beyza Björkman. Journal of Pragmatics 66, 122-138


    This paper reports on an analysis of the communicative strategies (CSs) used by speakers in spoken lingua franca English (ELF) in an academic setting. The purpose of the work has primarily been to outline the CSs used in polyadic ELF speech which are used to ensure communication effectiveness in consequential situations and to present a framework that shows the different communicative functions of a number of CSs. The data comprise fifteen group sessions of naturally occurring student group-work talk in content courses at a technical university. Detailed qualitative analyses have been carried out, resulting in a framework of the communication strategies used by the speakers. The methodology here provides us with a taxonomy of CSs in natural ELF interactions. The results show that other than explicitness strategies, comprehension checks, confirmation checks and clarification requests were frequently employed CSs in the data. There were very few instances of self and other-initiated word replacement, most likely owing to the nature of the high-stakes interactions where the focus is on the task and not the language. The results overall also show that the speakers in these ELF interactions employed other-initiated strategies as frequently as self-initiated communicative strategies.

    Read more about An analysis of polyadic lingua franca speech
  • Language ideology or language practice?

    2014. Beyza Björkman. Multilingua - Journal of Cross-cultural and Interlanguage Communication 33 (3-4), 335-363


    This article presents an analysis and interpretation of language policy documents from eight Swedish universities with regard to intertextuality, authorship and content analysis of the notions of language practices and English as a lingua franca (ELF). The analysis is then linked to Spolsky's framework of language policy, namely language practices, language beliefs, values (and ideology), and language planning or management (Spolsky 2004). The results show that the language policy documents refer heavily to official documents that have as their primary aim to protect and promote the Swedish language (e. g., the Language Act 2009), which appears to have been the point of departure for the language policy work in these settings, reflecting their protectionist stance towards the local language, Swedish. Little focus is put on actual language practices in these policy documents. The description of language practices is often limited to the description of the existing situation, based on concerns about Swedish losing ground as a result of the widespread use of English. Similarly, the notion of ELF is used primarily for description of the existing situation without sufficient guidance as to how students and staff in these university settings are to use English in their everyday practices. These results bring to the fore the question of what the purpose of university language policy documents should be with reference to a speech community's everyday practices. It is suggested here that university language policy documents would benefit from taking research on actual language practices as their starting point and base their work on research on language practices, striving to provide guidance on local choices made for communicative effectiveness.

    Read more about Language ideology or language practice?
  • Of butterflies and birds, of dialects and genres

    2013. .

    Book (ed)

    This volume is a tribute to our friend and colleague Philip Shaw, Professor of English linguistics at the Department of English, Stockholm University, on the occasion of his 65th birthday.

    The 22 contributions to this volume by friends and colleagues worldwide bear witness to Philip’s academic versatility as well as his interests beyond academia. The first paper, ‘Narratives of Nature in English and Swedish: Butterfly books and the case of Argynnis paphia’, a genre study by Annelie Ädel and John Swales, is illustrated by Philip devoting himself to one of his favourite activities. It is followed by four other genre analyses, based on very different texts: Trine Dahl, ‘Telling it Like it Is or Strategic Writing? A portrait of the economist writer’, Paul Gillaerts, ‘Move Analysis of Abstracts from a Diachronic Perspective: A case study’, Maurizio Gotti, ‘Investigating the Generic Structure of Mediation Processes’, and Nils-Lennart Johannesson, ‘Orrmulum: Genre membership and text organisation’.

    The following five papers all relate to Philip’s work in the fields of English as a Second Language (ESL), English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), and English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The ESL study by Britt Erman and Margareta Lewis is titled ‘Vocabulary in Advanced L2 English Speech’, and ELF is represented by Beyza Björkman’s ‘Peer Assessment of Spoken Lingua Franca English in Tertiary Education in Sweden: Criterion-referenced versus norm-referenced assessment’. The three following papers relate to Philip’s work on academic writing: Magnus Gustafsson & Hans Malmström, ‘Master Level Writing in Engineering and Productive Vocabulary: What does measuring academic vocabulary levels tell us?’, Akiko Okamura, ‘Philip Shaw’s Writing Expertise in Academic Discourse’, and Diane Pecorari, ‘Additional Reasons for the Correlation of Voice, Tense and Sentence Function’.

    The three papers to follow address issues within the fields of dialectology and sociolinguistics, representing different speech communities in the English-speaking world: Joan C. Beal, ‘Tourism and the Commodification of Language’, Peter Sundkvist, ‘“Ridiculously Country”: The representation of Appalachian English in the Deliverance screenplay’, and Sandra Jansen, ‘“I don’t sound like a Geordie!”: Phonological and morphosyntactic aspects of Carlisle English’.

    This naturally leads on to studies on World Englishes, represented by papers by Kingsley Bolton, ‘World Englishes, Globalisation, and Language Worlds’, Gunnel Melchers, ‘The North Wind and the Sun: A classic text as data for World Englishes’, Christiane Meierkord & Bridget Fonkeu, ‘Of Birds and the Human Species – Communication in Migration Contexts: English in the Cameroonian migrant community in the Ruhr area’, and Augustin Simo Bobda, ‘The Emergence of a Standardizing Cameroon Francophone English Pronunciation in Cameroon’.

    The five final papers deal with a variety of linguistic topics all close to Philip’s heart but not so easily accommodated into the above sections. They are: Maria Kuteeva, ‘Tolkien and Lewis on Language in their Scholarly Work’, Karin Aijmer and Anna Elgemark, ‘The Pragmatic Markers Look and Listen in a Cross-linguistic Perspective’, Magnus Ljung, ‘Goddamn: From curse to byname’, Christina Alm-Arvius, ‘Opposites Attract’, and Erik Smitterberg, ‘Non-correlative Commas between Subjects and Verbs in Nineteenth-century Newspaper English’.

    Read more about Of butterflies and birds, of dialects and genres
  • English as a lingua franca in higher education

    2011. Beyza Björkman. Ibérica (22), 79-100


    The last decade has brought a number of changes for higher education in continental Europe and elsewhere, a major one being the increasing use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) as the medium of instruction. With this change, RAP is faced with a new group of learners who will need to use it predominantly in ELF settings to communicate with speakers from other first language backgrounds. This overview paper first discusses the changes that have taken place in the field of EAP in terms of student body, followed by an outline of the main findings of research carried out on ELF These changes and the results of recent ELF research have important implications for EAP instruction and testing. It is argued here that EAP needs to be modified accordingly to cater for the needs of this group. These revolve around the two major issues: norms and standards for spoken English and target use. If the aim of EAP instruction and testing is to prepare speakers for academic settings where English is the lingua franca, the findings of ELF research need to be taken into consideration and then integrated into EAP curriculum design and testing, rethinking norms and target use. The norms and standards used by EAP instruction must be based on this realistic English, and educational resources should be deployed more realistically, including the usage of ELF, thereby validating the pluralism of English. This paper argues that any practice that excludes this perspective would be reducing EAP qualitatively and quantitatively.

    Read more about English as a lingua franca in higher education

Show all publications by Beyza Björkman Nylén at Stockholm University