EMI at Tertiary Level in Spain: Perspectives From Lecturers at a Medium-Sized State University

EMI at Tertiary Level in Spain: Perspectives From Lecturers at a Medium-Sized State University

Francisco Zayas Martínez (University of Cadiz, Spain) and José Luis Estrada Chichón (University of Cadiz, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2318-6.ch011


This chapter examines the state-of-the-art of EMI lecturing at Cadiz University, Spain. The rationale of the research lies in the lecturers' main challenges for issues related to the use of EFL and EMI methodologies. Data were collected from a questionnaire to which EMI lecturers responded (N=22; 69%) and from a focus group carried out with a cross-sectional sample of participants (N=6). The conclusion sheds light on the following: For the first time, Spanish universities have started to design language policies aimed at using English for lecturing, although the initial implementation shows diverse effects, depending on whether EMI teaching takes place in one scientific area or another. This panorama suggests an adaptation of EMI training. Secondly, lecturers are committed to EMI training not only for language but also for methodological issues. They also demand greater recognition for teaching courses in EFL. Potential solutions and recommendations are proposed.
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Initial Adoption Of Emi At The University Of Cádiz

EMI is defined as “the use of English to teach academic subjects in countries with jurisdictions where the first language (L1) of the majority of the population is not English” (Dearden, 2015, p. 2). EMI used in academic contexts is a growing area of investigation (Macaro, Hultgren, Kirkpatrick & Lasagabaster, 2019) as more and more universities are introducing EMI to attract researchers, lecturers and students from all over the world (Doiz, Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2011; Rose & McKinley, 2018; Murata, 2019). This framework involves two significant motivations (Baker & Hüttner, 2018, p. 79): “The link between internationalization and English in higher education (Jenkins, 2014; Liddicoat, 2016) in which programs offered in English are perceived as ‘higher’ status and thus more attractive to increasingly mobile student populations (OECD, 2014).” This setting suggests that there is an increasing number of content subjects taught in EMI (Lasagabaster, Doiz & Sierra, 2014; Earls, 2016) as a result of shifting from EFL (Dearden, 2015). As Baker and Hüttner (2018) point out, EMI has repeatedly been associated with “the specific and influential domain of academe” (Coleman, 2013, p. xiv) distinguishing from approaches like CLIL (Coyle, Hood & Marsh, 2010; Nikula, 2017) at primary and secondary education levels (Guarda & Helm, 2016; Smit & Dafouz, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Language Policy: A set of principles and measures defined to address language correctness in terms of discursive and ethical appropriateness. The concept has expanded in recent years to include also institutional resolutions defining the conditions under which foreign languages can play a definitive role in specific academic matters, such as teaching (in bilingual or international courses), scientific debates or academic presentations (including international doctoral theses). Complementary foreign language training activities can also be part of specific language policies, either for lecturers or students. In recent years, language policy plans have also begun to be developed for specific faculties or schools, focusing on more concrete and manageable objectives and measures.

EFL: The acronym “English as a Foreign Language” is conventionally applied in Spain to any teaching-learning situation in which the main content is English, considered as a language not (well) known by the participants. Modern research makes a distinction between EFL and ESL (English as a Second Language) to underline the important role of the context in which the language is learned, which could affect the didactic orientation of the course. In this document, the acronym EFL is used under consideration of this distinction, so that the activities referred to are always implemented outside of any natural English-speaking context unless they are defined as ESL activities.

Educative Innovation: Educational innovation actions refer to any training activity, seminars or workshops, and even limited local research projects to improve teaching practice in universities. These actions are always led by a member of the faculty for the benefit of other colleagues and can count on the occasional or regular participation of specialists in a specific field of Education (creativity, interaction, ICT, cooperative work, blended learning systems, etc.), which results in the improvement of the quality of the areas and courses involved.

CLIL: The acronym CLIL is mostly used to refer to Content and Language Integrated Learning situations and is regularly used in Spain as the original English version of the Spanish acronym AICLE. However, this Spanish version of the term includes different possible interpretations, the most widespread being that of “Aprendizaje Integrado de Contenido y Lengua Extranjera”, where an explicit mention is made of the foreign language to be integrated, which excludes the simultaneous integration of L1. The second and less frequent version of “Aprendizaje Integrado de Contenidos y Lenguas” insists on the need to integrate more than one language to guarantee the coexistence of a foreign language with the natural development of the mother tongue(s). A third version of “Aprendizaje Integrado de Contenido y Lengua” would also be possible as the version closest to the original concept in English, in which no reference is made to the role that such language plays for the speaker.

International Teaching Visit Program: Traditionally associated in the European context with Erasmus, it allows a previously arranged visit by a lecturer to take on some of the teaching hours of a course. Erasmus teaching mobility requires a minimum volume of eight hours over a maximum of five days. European lecturers use this opportunity to share teaching practices, as well as to establish or strengthen scientific relationships that might consolidate a potential international research project in any competitive call.

Internationalization: Conventionally regarded as a consequence of globalization, institutional internationalization consists of a progressive network among universities of different language and cultural origins. Students undertake part of their learning pathway in foreign universities, either through international mobility programs (Erasmus) or in programs specifically designed for foreign countries, and lecturers also increasingly participate in international teaching visit programs. At the same time, administrations support international research cooperation in the form of international consortia. Spanish universities are beginning to include internationalization among their political priorities and are designing their governments with this in mind or even designing a specific vice-chancellor for this purpose with responsibilities in international scientific issues, as well as the mobility of lecturers and students.

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