The Pedagogical Dimension and the Use of Materials in English-Taught Programs in Higher Education

The Pedagogical Dimension and the Use of Materials in English-Taught Programs in Higher Education

Cynthia Yanin Pimentel-Velázquez (University of Cordoba, Spain) and Víctor Pavón-Vázquez (University of Cordoba, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2318-6.ch015


The necessity to develop the language proficiency of students in higher education and to equip them with the necessary professional and multicultural competences has become a priority in higher education. Irrespective of the different kind of proposals available, it is a fact that, today, English-taught programs are raising a great deal of interest. However, very little attention is being given to the pedagogical dimension, not only to what concerns the specific methodologies, but also to the resources with which they work. In this chapter the authors will review the basic principles that should encourage the development of materials adapted for bilingual teaching, and more specifically, they will analyse the properties and most relevant characteristics that these materials must possess, ending up by offering a practical instrument regarding the criteria that should encourage the design and development of didactic materials for bilingual education at the tertiary level.
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The implementation of English-taught programs has become in these days one of the most frequent instruments to improve the international profile of universities and, consequently, a means to address some of the different faces of the internationalisation process (Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra, 2014; Knight, 2004, 2009). For this reason, educational authorities and policy makers are now looking to universities to increase the number of studies offered in English (Dearden, 2014; Ritzen, 2004; Wächter and Maiworm, 2008, 2014). Regardless of the reasons for this movement (e.g., attracting international students, expanding potential mobility and collaboration between universities, or enriching the academic and professional competences of students), the implementation of these programs has turned into a decisive factor for the improvement of the university as a whole (Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra, 2011).

It is obvious that enhancing the international profile of universities has become one of the main drivers for the aspiration to offer studies in a foreign language. In addition, looking at the potential benefits of such programs from the students’ perspective, it could be said that universities are offering English-taught programs with the objective of providing the students with the necessary linguistic equipment that will allow them to adapt to global professional needs (Dimova et al., 2015; Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra, 2013; Hellekjaer and Wilkinson, 2019; Valcke and Wilkinson, 2017; Wilkinson, 2004; Wilkinson and Walsh, 2015; Wilkinson and Zegers, 2008).

However, although this notable increase of English-taught programs is now an apparently unstoppable process, many are raising their voices against the implementation of studies in which a series of fundamental elements may not be followed adequately (Rose and Galloway, 2019). Furthermore, there are some aspects that should be carefully analysed before the implementation of the program and, therefore, would need more attention during the phase of organising the studies and thereafter. For example, the profile of the teachers, whether they have received specific training or not, the linguistic proficiency of both teachers and students, the resources available, the presence of clear and sound objectives in the studies taught in a foreign language, and the existence of attractive incentives for all the stakeholders, just to mention some of the most relevant ones (Marsh, Pavón and Frigols, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

CLIL: CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning and refers to teaching subjects such as science, history and geography to students through a foreign language with a dual-focused aim, the learning of content and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language.

Scaffolding: The process of supporting your students during their learning process and gradually removing that support as your students become more independent.

ICLHE: ICLHE stands for integrating content and language in higher education, with a focus not only in the context of academic disciplines, but also in terms of the cultures and languages that the new academic community brings together.

Authentic Materials: Any kind of print, video, and audio materials students encounter in their daily lives.

Text Genres: They are a type of written or spoken discourse that show similitudes in terms of content, style, and composition.

EMI: A type of educational approach mainly used in higher education in which English is used as the main language in class and the teacher adapts their methodology to support meaning.

CALP: It is said to occur in 'context reduced' academic situations, where the language is ‘disembedded’ from a meaningful, supportive context.

BICS: BICS describes the development of conversational fluency and it is said to occur when there are contextual supports and props for language delivery.

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