Systemizing Professional Development for Teaching Through English in Higher Education

Systemizing Professional Development for Teaching Through English in Higher Education

Wendy Diaz (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2318-6.ch006


This chapter suggests that successful and sustainable implementation of EMI in higher education can benefit from a systems approach. Drawing on general system theory, this approach enables a systemic development process for having academic programmes taught through English so that the roles of all key components of a university as an ecosystem are harmonized. The established and emergent components of the process are identified through a key development indicator matrix. The matrix enables holistic coordination so as to maximize the potential for long-term quality impact of teaching through English. The matrix is described here with respect to a 2015-2019 higher education languages strategy implemented at a major public university in Mexico, which has led to development and launch processes for English-medium education.
Chapter Preview


During the last two decades we have witnessed the flourishing of English-taught programmes in higher education all over the world (Dearden, 2014: Macaro et al., 2018), and especially in Europe (Wächter & Maiworn, 2008, 2014), as an attempt to enhance the international profile of the universities. In this regard, universities throughout Latin America are also aspiring to implement strategies to spark and consolidate internationalization processes (Corrales, Paba Rey, & Santiago Escamilla, 2016). A systemic approach for the implementation of professional development and other processes for teaching and learning through English in a large predominantly monolingual public university in Mexico, the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) is described in this chapter.

Following a 3-year intra-university consultation process (2010-2013), needs were identified for strengthening international outreach. Diagnostics were conducted to form an evidence-base for decision-making on language learning curricula, teacher capacity, learner performance, and the potential for additional language learning across the university. The outcomes were shared in consultations with key stakeholders throughout the process. It was evident from data analysis that raising the profile of English language in the university was a key element in strengthening international outreach and engagement.

In 2013, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) had been identified as a potential educational solution for the professional development of non-language-subject teaching staff who would teach through English. This followed a period in which practices in other countries were examined which, in turn, required assessment of the meaning and use of different terms and acronyms. The term English as the Medium of Instruction (EMI) was purposely not adopted for the UdeG case. In establishing a working nomenclature for the process, EMI was considered as denoting a situation in which English is used as if the teaching was in a monolingual context. CLIL was considered as denoting actions undertaken to accommodate learning needs in a situation where English is used as if it were a bilingual context. In addition, in the UdeG case it was clear that pedagogy, didactics and emphasis on learning would be central to any adaptation process for introducing English. The term ‘instruction’ was considered inappropriate because of emphasis on teaching. Finally, teaching subjects through English was seen as part of a larger multilingual strategy to eventually promote the learning and use of other languages, and by not emphasizing the word ‘English’ the term CLIL was a preferred choice.

This set of processes led to the 2015 launch and implementation throughout the university of a purpose-designed Language Policy. A decision was made to introduce a multilingual strategy, upskill university teachers in English language and methodologies, and launch programmes through the medium of English.

Given the importance of delineating the recognisable forces shaping the introduction of English-taught programmes (Valcke & Wilkinson, 2017; Wilkinson & Walsh, 2015), professional development programmes were designed alongside the creation of a systemic Key Development Indicator (KDI) matrix in order to enable the objectives of the university.

The design of the KDI matrix was based on a set of indicators. The indicators were chosen on the basis of what was considered important as derived from data outcomes on university objectives, capacity, competences, and perspectives derived from consultation with stakeholders.

This chapter introduces separate components of the KDI matrix. It describes how attention given to these these can support the introduction of teaching through English in a predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking environment, and how the matrix serves to coordinate actions necessary for longer-term sustainability (Lauridsen, 2013; Dafouz, 2018). The main objective is to argue that a fragmented approach towards introducing English as a language for learning content in a higher education institution will not allow for the realization of the potential for success when compared to a systems approach.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): A dual-focused approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language through use of largely bilingual methodologies.

Systems Theory: A transdisciplinary theory about interaction in complex systems.

English as the Medium of Instruction: A context in which English is used as an additional language for teaching and learning.

Competence Matrix: A framework used to describe pedagogical and linguistic competences for teaching through English as an additional language.

Systemic Development: A process in which systems theory is implemented to enable some form of development.

Scaffolding: A technique to enable students to learn using temporary support mechanisms.

Ecosystem: A community which functions as an inter-connected system.

Key Development Indicator Matrix: A framework in which multiple key factors that enable innovative practices to develop intersect and are embedded with one another within an organization.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: