Shifting Towards English Medium Instruction in Higher Education: Teacher Perceptions

Shifting Towards English Medium Instruction in Higher Education: Teacher Perceptions

Jolita Horbacauskiene (Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania) and Evelina Jaleniauskiene (Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3266-9.ch004

Abstract

In higher education (HE), the emerging global phenomenon of English medium instruction (EMI) has brought huge opportunities for both students and teaching staff as universities are increasing the number of English-medium programmes. A number of studies have been conducted to explore EMI policies and practices, implications for pedagogy, as well as challenges for educators and students, including learners' academic skills, learning styles, level of content knowledge, academic practices, and varying ethical standards. Some issues under analysis are considered to be the main problematic questions faced in multilingual and multicultural classrooms. As noted by Dearden, the change in the learning and teaching language may deeply affect not only students but teachers as well. The current study seeks to answer the research questions of how university teachers conceptualize EMI and what possibilities and challenges this practice offers.
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Emi Perspectives And Challenges

Wilkinson (2012) states that HE ranking organisations accelerate the EMI expansion due to the established criteria against which universities are compared internationally. The reasons for developing EMI programmes are changing and depend mainly on financial and survival reasons, including the need to attract international students, prepare domestic students for the international labour market and compete with other HE institutions in their country, region or continent.

Shohamy (2012) argues that the approach of other languages as a medium of instruction is applicable to situations and academic settings where academic content in subjects is taught via a language which is ‘not the native language of the students but rather via the language they seek to acquire’ (p. 196). In the case of English, it is associated with a high prestige language for teaching, and, consequently, as noted by Shohamy (2012), universities tend to ‘comply with a prestigious and high status language, which becomes more powerful than the local and national languages and stipulate that academic language must be taught in English’ (p. 202). Dimova et al. (2015) claim that implementation of EMI has been met very differently throughout the European HE. For example, in Italy, there have been cases when a university was sued by its lecturers for violation of freedom in teaching; in France, EMI has been seen as a threat to the national language and authenticity; in German HE, less resistance has been met, while in Nordic countries, the main risks have been seen from the perspective of national languages and culture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Higher Education: Education at a college or university where subjects are studied at an advanced level.

English Medium Instruction Program: Study program that is delivered through English without using any other language for instruction.

Globalisation: The process when organisations start operating on an international scale.

English Medium Instruction: Teaching in English as a foreign language. Usually other languages are not used if the subject is delivered in EMI.

Bolonia Declaration: The document signed by 29 countries to reform the European higher education sector.

Technical University: A university specializing in the study of science, engineering, and technology.

English as a Lingua Franca in Academia (ELFA): Usage of English for communication among non-native English speakers in a university setting.

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