Development of a Teacher Training Course for English Medium Instruction for Higher Education Professors in Brazil

Development of a Teacher Training Course for English Medium Instruction for Higher Education Professors in Brazil

Ron Martinez (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil) and Karina Fernandes (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil & Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2318-6.ch007


While much is known about English medium instruction (EMI) from an institutional policy standpoint—particularly in Europe—much less has been written about EMI pedagogy and teacher training, and still less regarding either phenomenon in the South American context. The chapter reports on the rationale for and the development of an EMI teacher training course specially constructed to fit the needs of Brazilian lecturers. Moreover, two versions of the course were designed and taught, with the feedback for each collected and compared. Results show that the goals for the course were largely met, but the two versions rendered different outcomes. One of the more interesting results involves the reported ability to transfer EMI teaching techniques to one's regular (i.e. L1) classroom instruction – but this result was most only found in one of the versions of the course. The implications of the findings are clear for the local context but are also likely to be of relevance in any global context in which EMI training occurs or will be implemented.
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1. Introduction

In many parts of the world, teaching classes in English (in regions where that language is not the usual medium of instruction) has become commonplace, with universities that seek to internationalize already aware of the importance of adopting English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI). Rather than simply take stock of EMI growth around the world (Dearden, 2014; Wächter & Maiworm, 2014), more and more research has emerged to weigh the pros and cons of its adoption (e.g. (Bradford, 2016; Dafouz & Camacho-Miñano, 2016; Jenkins, 2013), and how to best support all stakeholders, including students and, especially, the EMI lecturers themselves. One obvious way in which lecturers can feel supported is through development programs designed specifically for EMI faculty (pre- or in-service) – and yet we still know relatively little about such programs in general (Macaro, Curle, Pun, An, & Dearden, 2018; Valcke & Wilkinson, 2017).

There are at least two broad challenges a non-native EMI lecturer might face when teaching through English. The first concerns the English language itself, and the extent to which lecturers feel their proficiency is adequate for the purposes of delivering an effective lecture. Interestingly, there is actually a lack of empirical research to point to a particular threshold of minimal proficiency for teaching of EMI; instead, what seems to prevail are either institutional policies that err on the side of higher proficiency (e.g. C1+) (Klaassen & Bos, 2010), or simply no stated requirement at all (O’Dowd, 2018). In either case, non-native EMI lecturers regularly report insecurities regarding their level of English (Bamond Lozano & Strotmann, 2015; Drljača Margić & Vodopija-Krstanović, 2018; Nguyen, Walkinshaw, & Pham, 2017).

The second challenge, but to a large degree related to the first (English proficiency), is related to teaching method. Put simply, whereas in one’s L1 – and teaching to students who share that L1 – it can be mostly assumed that everyone in class is able to follow (at least on a linguistic level), in an EMI context the lecturer is likely to encounter a heterogeneity of levels of English among course participants that may not be able to follow in the same way (Ball & Lindsay, 2013). Moreover, there are reports of lecturers many lecturers (well over 50 per cent, according to Contero, Zayas & Tirado’s 2018 study) do not adapt their lessons to involve students more, and in fact tend to merely translate their existing material from their L1. Thus, the approach that is often prescribed in such courses, roughly speaking, concerns the lecturer speaking less and involving the students more, which ultimately can help to alleviate the proficiency-related stresses mentioned earlier (Pagèze & Lasagabaster, 2017).

Therefore, while presented separately in the preceding paragraph, language and pedagogy-related issues clearly overlap and interrelate. (For example, a lecturers’ linguistic deficiencies can be mitigated if the onus to speak does not exclusively or predominantly fall on the lecturer.) Thus, it can be argued that these two broad challenges must be acknowledged and dealt with in order for (potential) EMI faculty to feel supported at any given higher education institution (HEI). In this chapter, we will describe our efforts to deal with the challenge of helping lecturers at a public research university in Brazil feel more supported in their EMI teaching through a specially-developed teacher training course. We will first outline the rationale for such a course, also providing an overview of its scope and sequence, and go on to present our findings. Implications for HEI support programs both in Brazil and further afield will be discussed, as well as directions for future inquiry.

Key Terms in this Chapter

B1/B2: In the Common European Framework of Reference, the “B” level represents the “independent user” band, with B1 and B2 denoting the “threshold” and “vantage” (or “upper intermediate”) levels, respectively. The “C” levels are the most advanced.

Scope and Sequence: What content, themes and so on are covered in a course syllabus (“scope”), and the order in which those items appear on the syllabus (“sequence”).

Science without Borders: In 2011, the Brazilian Ministry of Education launched this mobility program, with the original aim of sending over 100,000 students to foreign universities, to encourage international scholarship among STEM undergraduate students (especially). The program was shut down in 2016.

L1/L2: One’s first/second language.

Signposting: In a lecture or speech (especially), the words, phrases and other non-verbal devices the speaker intentionally employs in order to help the listener/viewer follow the logic and transitions during a talk.

Lecturer: A “lecturer” in this context can be any type of permanent or non-permanent member of the teaching staff of an HEI (i.e. anyone who “lectures”).

HEI: Higher Education Institution, which can include several types of colleges and universities, both public and private.

SWOT: “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats” – a kind of framework for analysis used especially in the context of entrepreneurship and project planning.

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