English proficiency and approaches to teaching when English is the medium of instruction

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Students in classroom

Across global higher education, English-Medium Instruction (EMI) is on the rise. However, its educational effects remain unclear. This project investigates how teachers' English proficiency influences their teaching methods in EMI, a first-of-its-kind study.  

Project summary

In numerous higher education contexts around the world, Sweden included, the practice of using English to teach/learn academic subjects (so-called English-medium instruction/EMI) has quickly grown in scope and prominence. Despite its popularity, the consequences of EMI with respect to education impact are poorly understood. EMI teachers’ ability to engage with students in English is arguably a key factor in this regard, since intelligible interaction in English is likely to be a precondition for effective learning in EMI.

This project studies the relationship between the teaching approaches of teachers working in EMI and aspects of their English proficiency, a relationship that has never been explored empirically. Set in Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America, this collaborative project relies on comparative education methodology (utilizing surveys, self-assessment, and language testing) and will enhance our understanding of the role played by language in EMI.

By mapping the English proficiency of teachers in different contexts of EMI, the discrete skills that contribute to effective teaching in EMI, and the need for support and/or professional development of EMI teachers, the project will impact research in EMI and related fields (e.g., teacher education and policy in higher education).

This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet (ref. 2022-03643).

Research team

  • Hans Malmström (Professor, Principal Investigator), Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
  • Marie Vander Borght (PhD-student, project collaborator), Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
  • Diane Percorari (Professor, collaborator/advisor), University of Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Ron Martinez (Associate Professor, collaborator/advisor), University of Oklahoma, United States

Project update

2024-03-15: Phase 1 data collection will commence in April 2024. EMI teachers (pre-service as well as in-service teachers) across the three data collection sites will be invited to participate in a survey exploring (i) perceived needs for English language support for teaching in EMI; (ii) self-assessment of English proficiency; and (iii) approach to teaching.

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