English as a medium of instruction
– a growing global phenomenon
© Mat Wri gh t
English as a medium of instruction
– a growing global phenomenon
Julie Dearden is the Senior Research and
Development Fellow in English as Medium of
Instruction (EMI) at Oxford University Department
of Education (OUDE) and has a particular interest
in the global shift from English being taught as
a ‘foreign’ language to English being used as a
medium of instruction for other academic subjects.
She is a member of the OUDE Applied Linguistics
research group which aims to increase
understanding of the acquisition and use of
language from both a theoretical and a practical
perspective. Julie manages a new research centre
which was established in March 2014: EMI Oxford.
This centre conducts research into English as
Medium of Instruction and develops and teaches
professional development programmes for
teachers and lecturers.
1 Executive summary ................................................................................................................................................................................. 2
2 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4
3 Methodology ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 5
3.1 The preliminary study...................................................................................................................................................................... 5
3.2 The 55 countries study .................................................................................................................................................................. 5
3.3 Methodological challenges posed by this study ................................................................................................................. 7
4 The ﬁndings ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8
4.1 The growth of EMI as a global phenomenon ......................................................................................................................... 8
4.2 Ofﬁcial policies and statements on EMI ................................................................................................................................12
4.3 Different national perspectives on EMI .................................................................................................................................15
4.4 Public opinion on EMI ....................................................................................................................................................................20
4.5 Teaching and learning through EMI ........................................................................................................................................23
4.6 Internationalising higher education ........................................................................................................................................29
5 Looking ahead ..........................................................................................................................................................................................32
6 Bibliography ..............................................................................................................................................................................................34
2 | Executive Summary Executive Summary | 3
This report presents the ﬁndings of a study which
attempted to provide an initial picture of the rapidly
growing global phenomenon of English medium
instruction (EMI). Our working deﬁnition of EMI was:
The use of the English language to teach academic
subjects in countries or jurisdictions where the ﬁrst
language (L1) of the majority of the population is
The study was conducted by EMI Oxford (The Centre
for Research and Development in English Medium
Instruction), a centre based in the University of
Oxford’s Department of Education. The research
group included Professor Ernesto Macaro,
Dr Catherine Walter, Julie Dearden and Ting Zhao.
The study was enabled thanks to the support of the
British Council and the data were collected between
October 2013 and March 2014.
The broad aim was to map the size, shape and
future trends of EMI worldwide. In order to meet
the challenge of researching a global phenomenon
with limited resources it was decided that the
methodology of this initial and unique study would
be to ask British Council staff in 60 countries to act
as ‘informed respondents’ for the countries in which
they were resident. Open-ended questionnaires were
sent to these respondents and they were asked to
provide information on the current state of EMI under
a number of headings. Further information on the
methodology used is provided in the main report.
We obtained information on 55 countries.
The main conclusions are:
The general trend is towards a rapid expansion
of EMI provision.
There is ofﬁcial governmental backing for EMI
but with some interesting exceptions.
Although public opinion is not wholeheartedly
in support of EMI, especially in the secondary
phase, the attitudes can be described as ‘equivocal’
or ‘controversial’ rather than being ‘against’ its
introduction and/or continued use.
Where there are concerns these relate to the
potentially socially divisive nature of EMI because
instruction through English may limit access
from lower socio-economic groups and/or a fear
that the ﬁrst language or national identity will
In many countries the educational infrastructure
does not support quality EMI provision: there is a
shortage of linguistically qualiﬁed teachers; there
are no stated expectations of English language
proﬁciency; there appear to be few organisational
or pedagogical guidelines which might lead to
effective EMI teaching and learning; there is little
or no EMI content in initial teacher education
(teacher preparation) programmes and continuing
professional development (in-service) courses.
We are quite some way from a ‘global’ understanding
of the aims and purposes of EMI because it appears
to be a phenomenon which is being introduced
‘top-down’ by policy makers and education managers
rather than through consultation with the key
stakeholders. We are also quite some way from
an understanding of the consequences or the
outcomes of EMI.
We conclude and recommend that there is an urgent
need for a research-driven approach which consults
key stake-holders at a national and international level
and which measures the complex processes involved
in EMI and the effects of EMI both on the learning
of academic subjects and on the acquisition of
Executive Summary | 3
Speciﬁcally we call on the relevant research
community to answer the following questions:
Who or what is driving EMI implementation
What are the different forms of EMI currently
What kind of English is being used in EMI and
does this matter?
What are the implications for teacher education,
teacher educators and materials developers?
Furthermore, what are the most sustainable
mechanisms of teacher education and
development beyond the immediate period
of engagement on a course?
Are there content areas where the transition to
EMI is easier for teachers and/or for learners?
Are there particular language problems associated
with particular content areas?
What levels of English proﬁciency enable EMI
teachers/professors to provide quality instruction
in their respective academic subjects?
In those countries which have an intermediate
year of English (between secondary and tertiary
education), how effective is this year in preparing
students to learn their academic subjects through
EMI? Similarly, what makes English for Speciﬁc
Purposes programmes effective in enhancing
student performance in EMI content learning?
How would we measure the success of an EMI
programme in the tertiary phase? Is the learning
of academic subjects improved by EMI? Does it
lead to deep understanding? If so by which groups
of students? All students? Only international
students? Only home students?
To what extent do language assessment systems
need to change (both for teachers and for
students)? Should we explore the potential of
What are the implications for secondary education
resulting from EMI expansion in tertiary education?
How does classroom interaction change as the
medium of instruction changes? Does it become
more interactive or less interactive?
What are the psycholinguistic representations in
the mental lexicon of abstract concepts
encountered in academic subjects through EMI?
Do abstract concepts result in restructuring
of a developing bilingual lexicon? Are we indeed
creating bilinguals/multilinguals through EMI?
What strategies are used by students in EMI
classrooms in oral and written comprehension
tasks which are designed to facilitate their
understanding of their academic subjects?
What are the psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic
effects on students’ home language resulting from
EMI used in various phases of education?
| 54 | Introduction
There appears to be a fast-moving worldwide shift,
in non-anglophone countries, from English being
taught as a foreign language (EFL) to English
being the medium of instruction (EMI) for academic
subjects such as science, mathematics, geography
and medicine. In this report a working deﬁnition
of EMI is:
The use of the English language to teach
academic subjects in countries or jurisdictions
where the ﬁrst language (L1) of the majority
of the population is not English.
This deﬁnition is important in that it provides a
conceptual separation between EMI and content
and language integrated learning (CLIL). Whereas
CLIL is contextually situated (with its origins in the
European ideal of plurilingual competence for EU
citizens), EMI has no speciﬁc contextual origin.
Whereas CLIL does not mention which second,
additional or foreign language (L2) academic
subjects are to be studied in, EMI makes it quite
clear that the language of education is English,
with all the geopolitical and sociocultural implications
that this may entail. Whereas CLIL has a clear
objective of furthering both content and language
as declared in its title, EMI does not (necessarily)
have that objective.
EMI is increasingly being used in universities,
secondary schools and even primary schools.
This phenomenon has very important implications
for the education of young people. Yet little empirical
research has been conducted into why and when
EMI is being introduced and how it is delivered.
We do not know enough with regard to the
consequences of using English rather than the ﬁrst
language (L1) on teaching, learning, assessing,
and teacher professional development.
Oxford University Department of Education’s Centre
for Research and Development on English Medium
Instruction (EMI Oxford) has the broad aim of
carrying out research on where EMI is being
implemented, how it is being implemented, and what
are the effects and outcomes of this implementation.
This is a research agenda that will take a number of
years to complete.
The study described in this report was a ﬁrst phase
in tackling that research agenda in that its intention
was to investigate in very broad terms what the
current situation is globally. This initial phase, carried
out with the support of the British Council, set about
mapping the size and shape of EMI in the world today.
What is reported here therefore is a ‘bird’s eye view’
of 55 countries where EMI is established or is in the
process of being established.
The study was conducted from October 2013 to
March 2014 and investigated the current situation
of EMI in terms of country par ticularities, subjects
being taught through EMI and important variables
according to educational phases.
The research consisted of:
1. A preliminary study of three countries in Europe.
2. An overview study of 55 countries around
3.1 The preliminary study
In September 2013 preliminary research was carried
out in three European countries by investigating
university teachers’ experiences of and views on EMI
in order to help deﬁne potential research questions
for use in later and larger scale research. This
preliminary study took place in universities in Austria,
Italy and Poland.
The research took the form of 1. semi-structured
interviews, and 2. written questionnaires:
1. EMI Oxford carried out 25 semi-structured 15–20
minute interviews with university teachers who
were participating in three separate one-week
professional development courses organised
by the British Council. The teachers came from
different disciplines, including Mathematics,
Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Information Technology,
Media Studies, Social Work. They taught both
undergraduates and graduates.
The interviews were based on open questions
about EMI aimed at investigating:
the teachers’ experience in EMI at
beliefs about whether students’ English improved
when learning through EMI
indications of whether students’ academic
subject learning was affected when learning
if teachers were aware of an EMI policy in
teachers’ perceptions of the level of English
needed by students to follow a course in EMI
and how they could reach that level
teachers’ beliefs of the level of English needed
by a teacher to teach in EMI and how they could
reach that level.
The interviewer also asked the teachers themselves
what research questions they would like EMI Oxford
to investigate in the future in relation to EMI.
2. EMI Oxford gathered responses to a post-course
questionnaire from the participants in all three
countries. The questionnaire included eleven
questions directly relating to the course which
provided additional insights in relation to the
The ﬁndings from the interviews and questionnaires
in three countries in Europe then served to inform
the design of a study of 55 countries around
3.2 The 55 countries study
The challenge of such a global survey led us to
seek the help of British Council staff who are
resident in countries around the world. In October
2013, a survey with open-ended, predominantly
qualitative, questions was sent to British Council staf f
in 60 countries. This was a one-reply-per-country
survey and the British Council respondents were
encouraged to consult with other stakeholders in
the ﬁeld of education, for example local university
professors or policy makers. Some respondents also
supplied policy documents and articles to support
their statements. Primary analysis of the data was
followed by a request for further information to ﬁll
any gaps. We can thus categorise our data as
deriving from ‘informed respondents’.
The responses were coded into a number of
categories by coding the items. For closed questions
(e.g. the percentage of public and private schools),
the coding process for each item involved converting
the answer into a numerical score. For open-ended
questions (e.g. attitudes towards EMI), the coding
process for each item involved condensing the
diverse information contained in the responses
into a limited number of categories, thus allowing
a rough attempt at quantiﬁcation. This allowed us
to construct a broad global picture of:
the percentage of public and private universities
the percentage of public and private
the number of countries in which EMI is permitted
or prohibited by the government
the existence of policy documents or ofﬁcial
statements on the use of EMI
6 | Methodology Methodology
The 55 countries and/or jurisdictions which participated in the study are:
Afghanistan Cyprus Iran Netherlands Sri Lanka
Argentina Czech Republic Iraq Nigeria Switzerland
Azerbaijan Estonia Israel Pakistan Ta i wan
Bahrain Ethiopia Italy Portugal Tur key
Bangladesh Germany Japan Qatar Uganda
Ghana Kazakhstan Saudi Arabia Ukraine
Brazil Greece Macedonia Senegal United States
Bulgaria Hong Kong Malaysia Serbia Uzbekistan
China Hungary Mauritius South Africa Venezuela
Colombia India Montenegro South Sudan Vietnam
Croatia Indonesia Nepal Spain Zambia
current and future trends in EMI
changes in policy over past ten years
the supply of qualiﬁed teachers
the existence of written guidelines about how
to teach through EMI
the existence of guidelines with regard to
English-only use or permission/suggestions to
use both English and the L1 (codeswitching)
which subjects are most often reported to be
assessed in English
subjects not taught in English but assessed
numbers of primary and secondary students
from immigrant communities
numbers of non-national students in universities
L1s of foreign students
numbers of subject teachers who are bilingual
numbers of monolingual English-speaking teachers
any provision for EMI on Initial Teacher
any assessment of EMI teachers’ English proﬁciency
any stated expectation of teacher language
proﬁciency to qualify as an EMI teacher.
Processing closed questions
Data cleaning was undertaken before the actual
analyses were conducted so as to correct as many
errors and inaccuracies as possible. The main checks
included: impossible data, contradicting data,
incorrectly entered values. Data manipulation was
conducted to make changes or to update survey
answers. Respondents were contacted again via
email to complete the items that they had missed
out the ﬁrst time.
There is some debate as to whether or not the United
States should be counted as an EMI country. In one
sense it clearly is not according to our deﬁnition
above (see Executive Summary) as the majority of
the population does not speak a language other
than English. In another sense it has large areas or
educational jurisdictions (Miami Florida; Texas) that
have majority populations where English is not the
ﬁrst language. It has been included in this report
as the respondent considered it an EMI country.
3.3 Methodological challenges posed
by this study
Methodological challenges encountered during this
1. Deﬁnitions and nomenclature
2. Research methods
3. Sampling and generalisability of data.
Carrying out a world-wide study of EMI poses a
number of challenges for researchers. EMI is a global
phenomenon, yet each EMI context in each country
is potentially different. Each context has its own
vocabulary for discussing educational issues
Access to key participants, stakeholders and experts
presents another major challenge for researchers
attempting to obtain valid and reliable data. EMI is
also subject to rapid change, and whatever a
researcher claims to have found out today may
become rapidly outdated.
The term English medium instruction itself is
relatively new and no universally accepted deﬁnition
exists. The term EMI is used in some countries
(for example Hong Kong) and not in others. It is
sometimes used as synonymous with CLIL (Content
and Language Integrated Learning). However CLIL
has a dual educational objective built into its title
(the enhancement of both content and language)
whereas EMI does not. Taken at ‘face value’ EMI
simply describes the practice of teaching an
academic subject through English which is not
the ﬁrst language of the majority population.
EMI is sometimes confused with teaching English as
a Foreign Language (EFL) through English, meaning
that the interaction and texts used for instruction in
EFL should avoid any recourse to the students’ ﬁrst
language. EMI is also confused with ESP (English for
Speciﬁc Purposes) in which courses involve English
for journalism or business studies for example,
speciﬁcally designed to enable a student to
undertake that profession in an English-speaking
context. It may also be confused with EAP (English
for Academic Purposes) which is designed to provide
students with the type of academic vocabulary and
(usually written) discourse enabling them to operate
successfully at a university which delivers its
academic subjects through the medium of English.
Although EMI is none of these, it is not a ﬁxed
concept but one that is evolving as an increasing
number of countries adopt it as a system of
education. The 55 Countries study was therefore
prefaced by a glossary of terms to help the
respondents understand the focus of the research.
Moreover terms such as home and majority language
were deﬁned in order to overcome the hurdle of
different countries having different labels and to
provide a common terminology for this report.
In the preliminary study the number of participants
and their teaching contexts were limited. The
university teachers were taking part in a British
Council Academic Teaching Excellence (ATE) course
and it might therefore be assumed that they were
already interested in and generally positive towards
EMI. Findings from 25 interviews cannot therefore be
considered as generalisable but it was hoped that
they would indicate some of the main issues for
teachers in EMI teaching and learning.
In the 55 countries study the data represent a
snapshot view of a particular country from the
standpoint of one British Council representative,
supported by any experts they chose to consult.
We therefore have to treat the information they
provided with some caution.
It is also important to note that trends in the
data may be strongly inﬂuenced by local factors.
These may be political, socio-economic or cultural.
Categories may not correspond with the same
underlying phenomenon from one country to
another. For example in most countries private
schooling is for the elite, but in some countries the
most prestigious secondary schools are state
schools (e.g. France); and in some countries private
schools may be low-cost schools (e.g. Pakistan).
Private universities are often smaller than state
universities and teach fewer students but we used
the university as the unit of analysis when comparing
private and state universities. Moreover, the overall
results are based on the nation-state or autonomous
region as the unit of analysis. This means that in
ﬁgures and tables, we are giving Mainland China
the same weight as Cyprus, when China’s population
is over ﬁfteen hundred times that of Cyprus. This
needs to be borne in mind when reﬂecting upon
the results. The ﬁndings are nevertheless worthy
in that they provide an indication of trends and raise
issues that can be explored in greater depth in
8 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 9
We report the ﬁndings under the following
1. The growth of EMI as a global phenomenon.
2. Of ﬁcial policies and statements on EMI.
3. Different national perspectives on EMI.
4. Public opinion on EMI.
5. Teaching and learning through EMI.
4.1 The growth of EMI as a
In summary, respondents reported:
There is more EMI in private than public education.
EMI is more likely to be sanctioned or ‘ofﬁcially
allowed’ in the private sector than the public sector.
The research ﬁeld of EMI can be conceptualised as
having two dimensions. The ﬁrst is its presence in
primary, secondary and tertiary education and the
transition points between these phases. The second
is the separation between public (state funded) and
Respondents reported on the percentage of public
and private provision of education. According to their
estimations, whilst in most countries the number of
public secondary schools heavily outweighed the
number of private secondary schools (Figure 1), in
most countries the numbers of private universities
almost equalled that of public universities (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Secondary schools: the percentage of secondary schools in each country which
are public and the percentage which are private as reported by British Council respondents
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Public secondary schools Private secondary schools
The ﬁndings | 9
Figure 2: The percentage of universities in each country which are public and the percentage which
are private as reported by British Council respondents
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Public universities Private universities
Globally, the percentage of institutions in the private sector which respondents reported as sanctioning or allowing
EMI is consistently higher than those in the public sector. When comparing each phase, (primary, secondary and
tertiar y) there is more EMI reported at tertiary level than at secondary level. There is more EMI at secondary
level than at primary level and, at all levels, EMI is more prevalent in the private sector.
Figure 3: Out of 55 countries, the percentage of primary schools, secondary schools and universities
reporting that EMI is allowed in the public and private sectors as reported by British Council respondents
0% 20% 40% 60%80% 100%
Public primary schools
ate secondary schools
Private primary schools
Public secondary schools
Allowed Not allowed Not answered
87.3% 7.3% 5.5%
Respondents reported on whether or not EMI is allowed in their countries and at what levels of education
in both the public and private sectors.
10 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 11
The summary of countries, sector and level where EMI was reported as allowed is shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Countries where EMI was reported as allowed, by sector and level
(Y = allowed; N = not allowed; ? = no answer)
Afghanistan ? Y ? Y Y Y
Bosnia and Herzegovina N N N N Y Y
Czech Republic ?YYYYY
Hong Kong ?YYYYY
India N Y N Y Y Y
The ﬁndings | 11
Saudi Arabia N Y N Y Y Y
South Africa YYYYYY
South Sudan YYYYYY
Sri Lanka NYYYYY
Tur ke y YYYYYY
United States YYYYYY
Uzbekistan N ? N ? Y Y
Respondents judged that the prevalence of EMI in the private sector was largely due to EMI giving an international
image, prestige and reputation to the institution in question. However, such generalisations mask a multitude of
varying situations in EMI. In India for example, private schools are not exclusively for the rich and elite, and EMI
provision varies across dif ferent types of institutions.
12 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 13
4.2 Ofﬁcial policies and statements on EMI
Respondents reported that policies on EMI exist
in 22 of the 55 (40 per cent) countries surveyed.
Twenty-seven countries out of 55 (49 per cent)
reported that ofﬁcial statements concerning EMI
had been made publically available.
Table 2: Existence of policies
Number Per cent
Yes 22 40.0
No 27 49 .1
Not known 610.9
Table 3: Ofﬁcial statements have been made
Number Per cent
Yes 27 4 9.1
No 23 41.8
Not known 59.1
This result was surprising as in our preliminary
research teachers in three European countries were
overwhelmingly unaware of any policy on EMI in their
universities, although they were well aware of a growth
in EMI and the importance of programmes such as
the European Commission’s Erasmus programme.
The majority of the teachers interviewed suspected
that there was a strategy but it was not explicit and
believed that the lack of ofﬁcial policy was perhaps
due to the fact that EMI was new, as the following
There isn’t a comprehensive policy more a general
trend not set in stone.
You mean that we need a ...? ...we have a masters
starting in Fall...Here isn’t a document at least that
A number of respondents in the 55 countries study
were able to peruse ofﬁcial policies and statements
as to why EMI has been introduced in their country.
They then analysed and summarised the reasons.
These reasons included a desire or intention to
develop English language learning skills; improving
knowledge of a target culture; opening up possibilities
for students to work and study abroad as well as
spreading the country’s own culture throughout the
world; political reasons of nation-building and aligning
a country with English-speaking neighbours.
The following comments are from respondents in
various countries summarising the reasons found
in ofﬁcial policies and statements for introducing
EMI in their country.
The new Public Education Act [4/2013. (I.11.)]
contains aims for bilingual education in primary
and secondary schools:
developing Hungarian and foreign
developing language learning skills
developing knowledge of target culture
maximising subject integration opportunities
enabling students to study or work in a foreign
language environment. Higher education EMI
is encouraged in particular to:
– raise foreign language skills to prepare
students for compulsory language exams
– attract international students.
Malaysia’s multicultural society makes it a natural
environment for producing students who are
proﬁcient in more than one language.
[they are] Resolutely proceeding with
internationalization and making educational
environments at universities that can compete
with the best in the world.
[they are] Providing opportunities for all students
with the desire and capability to study abroad.
Enhancing education from the primary
and secondary school levels to respond
Cultivating identity as a Japanese and spreading
Japanese culture to the world.
The Government encourages the opening of
international and bilingual schools aiming to
get students who can speak at least one foreign
language well and because we can have
The ﬁndings | 13
EMI in bilingual schools is introduced to ﬁrstly
improve knowledge of foreign languages among
students and, secondly, to prepare them for
potential HE study abroad. University study
programmes in English are created mainly for
the sake of foreign students.
Former Secretary of Education, Michael Suen,
notes at the beginning of ‘Enriching Our Language
Environment-Realising Our Vision: Fine – tuning
of Medium of Instruction for Secondary Schools’
that we are entering a new era as globalisation
has taken hold. In line with the policy goal of
‘upholding mother-tongue teaching while
enhancing student proﬁciency in both Chinese
and English’, the ﬁne-tuning of Medium of
Instruction for secondary schools will enhance
our students’ exposure to English and its use
at junior secondary levels … prepare them to
embrace new challenges and enhance Hong
Kong’s status as an international city.
South Sudanese participants at the 2012
Language-in-Education Conference in Juba stated
a number of reasons, including the political heritage
issue (i.e. breaking away from the previously
enforced Arabisation policy), nation building and
aligning themselves more closely with neighbours
to the east, e.g. Uganda and Kenya.
The policy states: ‘A school/madrasah which fulﬁls
all the National Standards for Education and which
is further enriched by taking into consideration
the education standards of one member nation
of the Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD) and/or another
advanced nation which has particular strengths
in education such that it achieves competitive
advantage in the international forum’.
The Dutch government has a policy in place
that is aimed at internationalisation of education,
especially for secondary and tertiary. Next to that,
there has been a recent policy proposal for the
increase of early foreign language teaching in
primary education, mostly focussing on English.
The mission statement of the Bilingual Education
Branch of the MoE is ‘Empowering future
generations to be multilingual (minimum bilingual)
using English as a tool presenting Sri Lankan identity.
There is ... an English language policy in schools
in the National Curriculum Framework and the
Position Paper on English in Schools, but none
such document or thinking exists for higher
education in India... .
The ofﬁcial statement is the National Curriculum
developed by the National Curriculum Development
Centre. It conﬁrms that English is the ofﬁcial
language of Uganda. It is also enshrined in the
1995 constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
EMI is introduced in tertiary education to attract
foreign students to Cyprus.
The Punjab School Education Department has
notiﬁed the conversion of all its schools from the
Urdu medium to English medium. The government
decision aims at competing with the globalized
world in the ﬁeld of knowledge.
There is an initiative from the EDB (Bahrain
Development Board) to improve schools and one
area is to improve English in public education
through three initiatives:
1. establishing Bahrain teachers’ college where
all courses are EMI
2. establishing a technical college with EMI to
feed the workforce with skilled Bahrainis
3. establishing the national examinations unit
to assess the outcome of teaching English at
the end of every cycle (primary, intermediary
14 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 15
A comparative case study: EMI in Turkey
As has been suggested earlier, each country and
each context where EMI is used is unique. On the
surface, reasons for the introduction and use of
EMI may look very similar, but when we dig deeper,
there are a myriad of contextual, geographical,
historical and political reasons which make each
country’s adoption of EMI different in nature and
extent. For example, from a geographical
perspective, Turkey and Kazakhstan are both
countries which span an Asian–European boundary.
Linguistically, they are both countries where several
different languages are spoken and people are often
bilingual and even multilingual. Yet the decision as to
which language is used as a Medium of Instruction
has different historical and cultural origins and
the impetus for and introduction of EMI varies
considerably between the two countries. The rich
linguistic variety in the two countries is summarised
by the respondents as follows:
The students in Turkey’s state schools have various
L1s and from academic year 2013–14, grade 5 and
6 students (11–12 years of age) may choose an
optional two-hour per week ‘Living Languages and
Dialects’ course from among a range of courses,
which include various Kurdish dialects and Laz
which is spoken in the Black Sea region. For many
students in the East of Turkey especially, Kurdish is
actually their L1 and Turkish their L2.
There is a tri-lingual policy. The three languages
of instruction are Kazakh, Russian and English.
Some ethnic languages are used as ofﬁcial
languages of instruction at ethnic schools,
e.g. Uighur, Uzbek, Korean, where the language
of instruction depends on the ethnicity of the
majority of the population. Current language
policy is directed at gradually strengthening the
home language, and there is discussion about
the place of Kazakh and Russian languages in the
future of the country. The use of Russian is slowly
declining as a medium for scientiﬁc and cultural
information, and English has become important
for many forms of communication. However, only
1.6 per cent of students studied in English in
2009–10 and almost half studied through Kazakh.
For both Turkey and Kazakhstan, respondents
reported that one objective of EMI is to increase the
number of international students. The respondent
from Turkey explained that The Higher Education
Council aims to increase the number of overseas
students dramatically over the next few years. In
Turkey most overseas students are from Africa and
Asia, from Middle Eastern countries and countries
in South-East Asia, especially Malaysia and Indonesia.
Respondents from both countries reported that a
parallel aim is to prepare home students to be
competitive in an integrated world.
However, Turkey is an example of a country where
the trend towards EMI has been reversed in state
schools. In the past, the elite state Anadolu High
Schools used EMI in the ﬁrst year, but this system,
according to our Turkey respondent, was abolished
a few years ago. The stated reason for abolishing
EMI was that pupils were performing poorly in
science and mathematics. Schools have returned
to teaching English as a foreign language, with six
hours of English language per week scheduled on
the timetable. Other subjects are mainly taught in
Turkish and the ofﬁcial language in all state schools
is Turkish. However EMI is widely used in the private
sector in international high schools.
As in many other countries in the study, the level of
the teachers’ English is a cause for concern in both
Turkey and Kazakhstan. The respondent in Turkey
estimated that 20 per cent of state school teachers
of English have only a CEFR (Common European
Framework of Reference) A2 language level and
reported that, although there is a standardised civil
service exam which includes English, there is no
separate test of teachers’ English language ability.
The assumption is that any graduate of an ELT or
other English-related subject (e.g. English Literature)
is proﬁcient enough to teach. There is little Teacher
Professional Development provision for teachers
in state schools and higher education institutions
although private schools and universities sometimes
run their own professional development programmes.
At tertiar y level in Turkey, institutions are free to
determine the extent of EMI. Our respondent estimated
that approximately 110 out of 178 institutions have
some kind of EMI provision. EMI has been introduced
in newly-established private universities in Istanbul,
Ankara and Izmir as well as the elite state universities.
Our Turkish respondent reported that there seems to
be an ambivalent attitude to EMI in universities in
Turkey, with both lecturers and students expressing
The ﬁndings | 15
the wish to have less EMI in higher education. Turkey
has adopted a preparatory year in many universities
during which students are required to undertake an
English language course intended to bring them to a
level at which they can operate through EMI. It is only
after successfully passing the end-of-year test that
students may commence their chosen ﬁeld of study.
Respondents in the study reported that tests are
often written in-house by individual universities with
little standardisation and that university teachers are
not convinced that the preparatory year adequately
prepares students for EMI study. Preparatory year
teachers are concerned that students arriving in
the preparatory year with a low level of English,
sometimes CEFR A2 level, were supposed to reach
a B2 level in just eight months. Teachers also believe
that many preparatory year students are not
motivated to learn English as they really just want
to get on with studying their subject at university
rather than learn English.
The respondent reported that Turkish university
teachers express concerns about EMI. They believe
that EMI reduces a student’s ability to understand
concepts and leads to low levels of knowledge of the
subject studied. Teachers believe it takes too much
time to teach the curriculum through EMI, that EMI
causes feelings of alienation and separation and
reduces student participation in class due to
students’ low level proﬁciency in English. EMI might
be seen as a vehicle for creating an elite class
excluding the masses as the majority of students do
not have access to English education. Interestingly,
Turkish-medium instruction is also facing problems;
the translation of speciﬁc academic or technical
terms into Turkish, the lack of resources for teaching
in Turkish and the low level of participation of
students in class are cited as concerns.
According to our Kazak respondent, in Kazakhstan
there has been a move ﬁrmly in the direction of EMI.
Kazakhstan was the ﬁrst among post-Soviet countries
to join the Bologna process in March 2010 and
became a member of the European Education Area.
In secondary schools, approximately 35 per cent of
subjects are taught in English, and there are also
elective courses in English.
There is a State Education Programme of Education
Development for 2011–20 and the government’s
tri-lingual policy which states that 15 per cent of the
adult population should speak English, Kazakh, and
Russian by 2020. EMI should be introduced at all
levels of education – university, college and school
and in both sectors (private and state). The Ministry
requires that English be used by 20 per cent of
teachers as a language of instruction by 2020.
Its aims are stated as:
The formation of an intellectually, physically
and spiritually developed citizen of the Republic
of Kazakhstan in general education institutions,
satisfying his/her needs in obtaining education, in
order to ensure success in a rapidly changing world.
(State Program of Education Development in the
Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011–20).
Internationalising the higher education system
is a high priority and languages are seen as key.
Kazakhstan is an example of a country whose
language is used only within its borders and so
using English in higher education is seen as a way
of internationalising the country. Degrees from
Kazakhstan, with its Soviet background, were not
recognised in developed countries and EMI is not
simply a new medium of instruction, but also a way
to implement a pedagogy and curriculum which is
more in line with established world standards of
teaching and assessment.
In Kazakhstan EMI is a means to develop the
country economically and politically. EMI exists
in leading private universities, Kasipkor College,
and Nazarbayev Intellectual schools and there are
joint educational programmes and international
collaboration agreements between universities.
Nazarbayev University is an example of an EMI
university where graduates are taught in English
with the expressed intention that they contribute
to research, education and the national economy.
Our respondents in Kazakhstan reported, as did
nearly all the respondents in the study, that a
majority of institutions are facing difﬁculties with
teaching resources in EMI and there are problems
in implementing EMI. Older teachers may not speak
English. In 2010 the British Council and BISAM
Central Asia agency found that only four per cent of
university faculty in Kazakhstan were highly proﬁcient
in English. The younger generation can learn English
with the Bolashak International Scholarship scheme
which provides the opportunity for a one-semester
foreign language course for future researchers and
graduate programmes abroad.
4.3 Different national perspectives on EMI
If we look at the global picture, it would appear that
the EMI phenomenon is in a state of ﬂux. From country
to country EMI is being promoted, rejected, reﬁned
and sometimes even reversed.
Nearly 62 per cent of respondents reported that the
country they represented had experienced EMI policy
changes over the past ten years. Not all changes had
been in the same direction:
16 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 17
Figure 4: Percentage of the 55 countries which
reported that changes in policy had taken place
over the past ten years
Yes No Not known
In some countries EMI is being promoted by policy
makers, administrators, teachers and parents as
EMI is thought to be a passport to a global world.
Policy makers consider EMI as a mechanism for
internationalising their education offer, creating
opportunities for students to join a global academic
and business community. They see EMI as a way of
rapidly increasing international mobility. Some see
EMI as a way to build the English language capacity
of their home country and ensure that their home
students can compete in a world market. The
following descriptions, provided by respondents
in Uzbekistan and Croatia, illustrate this:
In Uzbekistan the presidential decree of 10
December 2012 encourages English to be taught,
spoken, and used for business communication at
all levels and at any institution, be it journalism,
economics or ministry staff.
In Croatia, in the context of the Bologna process
and with increased international mobility as one
of its priorities, the Ministry of Education, Science
and Sport has developed an Action Plan for the
removal of obstacles and strengthening of the
international mobility in education, which includes
the increase in the number of study programmes
offered in foreign languages as one of its measures.
In many countries respondents reported that
English is seen as the way to access modernity
In Hong Kong, for example, EMI was seen as a way
of preparing children for the diverse linguistic needs
that will be placed upon them in the business hub
that is Hong Kong.
In Azerbaijan it was reported that EMI was perceived
as a ‘means of possible improvement of suitable
In Saudi Arabia English is recognised as a basic skill,
and the prestige attached to English ability was said to
include the potential for accessing better employment.
In Japan the business sectors, such as Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation) and Japan Association
of Corporate Executives, issued recommendations
on English education reform. These associations
focus on fostering practical English skills, the
internationalisation of school curricula (International
Baccalaureate), study abroad and university entrance
examination reform. Our respondent reported that
the associations ‘were concerned with the tendency
of Japan’s young people to be ‘inward-looking’ and
the fact that they remain low-ranked internationally
in terms of English proﬁciency’.
Many of these sentiments were echoed by the
university teachers and administrators in our
preliminary study interviews in three countries
in Europe. They reported that administrators of
universities consider EMI an attractive proposition
for many reasons, including promotion, globalisation
and ﬁnancial survival. This comment by an
administrator during the preliminary research
For the university central ofﬁces it’s ﬁnancial,
they want to promote the university more. It’s a
local university; they want to attract students
The ability to teach a class of mixed nationalities
through the medium of English means that
universities can attract high fee-paying international
students. It also means that universities can produce
high quality research papers in English, helping them
move up in the international rankings.
Interestingly, the reasons for EMI given by the
teachers interviewed were more idealistic than those
of administrators. Teachers considered EMI as a way
to improve communication, to exchange ideas and
create relations between countries, even a way of
facilitating world peace as well as a key to success
and a way to open doors for their home students.
They expressed the wish to teach their students
to access academic literature in English and hold
their own at international conferences or in their
professions. Some teachers also spoke about their
wish to ‘attract intelligent people to their university
and share their own knowledge more widely’.
For my university it is necessary to open the doors,
globalisation has arrived.
The ﬁndings | 17
We’re linguistically an isolated country.
Internationalisation is one of the big words
here. English as world language, as the key
to success, omnipresent.
Some considered English the new Latin, a world
language that could enable movement in academia
and business. EMI was also a personal challenge,
a way to improve personally and professionally as
teachers and to advance their careers. In other
words not only students but teachers too can
become international in an EMI context.
Many of our respondents made it clear that EMI is
a controversial and sensitive issue in their countries.
EMI is sometimes being rejected for political reasons,
to protect a national identity, a home language or
the freedom to study in a home language.
In Argentina, for example, it was thought that
deploying EMI throughout the education system on
a national scale would be seen negatively due to the
UK’s involvement in the Falklands/Malvinas conﬂict,
combined with nationalist claims and the status of
Spanish as the national language and the ofﬁcial
language for local education.
Protecting national identity was another reason given
as to why countries might be wary of EMI. This view is
represented by the report from Bangladesh, in which
the respondent explains that it was thought that EMI
might bring with it western views to the detriment of
the home culture:
More and more people in Bangladesh seem to be
interested in English medium education as good
knowledge of English provides many opportunities.
Students of English medium schools tend to learn
western literature, geography, history and so on.
Though these schools contribute towards the rise
of English there is an impression that this education
is gradually fostering western culture that
undermines Bangladeshi culture and tradition.
EMI is being rejected by some countries because
of the wish to protect a home, unifying language
or education system. Israel, Senegal and Venezuela
for example, were reported to be resisting the
spread of EMI in public education for this reason.
This concern expressed about the effect of EMI
on the home language was also elaborated on in
terms of how the latter might become used only for
everyday communication but not in academia, and
that as a consequence the academic use of the home
language would be lost. In Israel EMI was considered
a sensitive issue for this reason, and it was reported
that moves to run CLIL courses in English in the past
were stopped due to hostile media coverage.
The reintroduction of the Hebrew language as a fully
successful language was thought to be put at risk
by EMI. This had been the focus of some newspaper
articles, for example in the Jewish Daily Forward,
it was reported that:
The renewal of Hebrew arrived at its full success
at the time that Hebrew became the language of
teaching in the universities .... Hebrew could not
just be the spoken language of the street or the
market. A real language is a language that exists
in all ﬁelds of life.
President of The Academy of the Hebrew Language,
The Jewish Daily Forward 20 April 2012.
A counterargument to this view was that academic
work can only be read internationally if it is in English:
Hebrew is the language of the Jewish People,
but if you write your thesis in Hebrew, it is buried.
Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,
The Jewish Daily Forward 20 April 2012.
Despite these reservations, the respondent
reported that the trend in Israel is towards EMI
at the postgraduate level in the natural, physical
and computer sciences. English is also being used
more widely in undergraduate studies and in
humanities courses at all levels. The natural sciences
faculty at Ben-Gurion University recently formalised
a rule that lectures and classes are taught in English
if there are international students in the class.
At Tel Aviv University there are EMI courses and
assessments in humanities undergraduate
programmes, including archaeology, East Asian
studies and (surprisingly) Jewish history. The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem recommends that students
complete at least one course taught and assessed
Nevertheless the following quotes from respondents
in other countries also illustrate the desire to protect
a home language.
The Estonian Language Act declares that Estonian
medium instruction should be provided in all
curriculum ﬁelds at all levels. There has been
public discussion about protecting Estonian.
18 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 19
In the Pakistani context, three schools of thought
can be identiﬁed: ‘those who believe that the
mother tongue should be used as the medium
of instruction for non-native speakers of Urdu
(at least in primary schools); those who feel Urdu,
the national language, should be the medium of
instruction, whatever the child’s ﬁrst language
is; those who argue for maintaining or extending
the role that English currently has in the
There has been some controversy in the press
coming from traditional quarters who support
the use of Portuguese.
There are also initiatives that are aimed at
countering the increased levels of non-Dutch
being used in formal education, like the
‘Stichting Taalverdediging’ (Foundation for
Language Defence), who have actually gone
to court on some developments, especially
a successful early English programme.
Generally speaking, in primary and secondary
education, EMI is welcome in some but not
all courses as acquisition of the local ofﬁcial
language is attached great importance.
In countries wanting to protect their home language,
it was also thought that students graduating from
university to work in business, engineering and
medicine should have a deep knowledge of the
language in the country where they live. Although
they should have the opportunity to study in English,
this should not be to the exclusion of their home
language or other important international languages.
In Italy, the home of Latin, possibly the last global
language, our Italian respondent drew our attention
to the dispute at the Politecnico di Milano which had
caused a stir in 2012. The university announced that
from 2014 most of its degree courses – including all
its graduate courses – would be taught and assessed
entirely in English rather than Italian. The university
rector believed that if the Politecnico di Milano
remained Italian-speaking, it risked isolation and would
be unable to compete as an international institution:
We strongly believe our classes should be
international classes – and the only way to have
international classes is to use the English language.
BBC news website,16 May 2012 –
www.bbc.co.uk/16 May 2012
However, in 2013 this process was stopped by
the Regional Administrative Tribunal judges, who
accepted the appeal of 100 members of the faculty.
The faculty’s main claim was that it is wrong in
principle for an Italian public university to force
students and staff to use English. The precision
and quality of teaching and learning would be lost
in translation, it was claimed, if both teachers and
students used a second language:
Speaking Italian to our countrymen is like
watching a movie in colour, high deﬁnition,
very clear pictures. Speaking English to them,
even with our best effort, is like watching a movie
in black and white with very poor deﬁnition,
with blurred pictures.
Professor Emilio Matricciani, Appeal for Freedom
of Teaching, quoted on the BBC news website,
16 May 2012 – www.bbc.co.uk/16 May 2012.
A compromise seems to have been reached and the
university website now shows undergraduate and
graduate courses taught in English and in Italian.
Questions of equality and even human rights arise
when we start discussing which language(s) should
be used as a medium of instruction. If there is more
EMI in private education and it is seen as a door to
new opportunities, then should it be available to all?
Some countries, e.g. Pakistan, make provision in their
education policy to ensure that students from poorer
backgrounds can also learn English. On the other
hand, all students have a right to education in their
home language. In Ar ticle 29(c) of the UN’s
Convention on the Rights of the Child (www.ohchr.
which entered into force in 1990, it states that:
‘States Parties agree that the education of the child
shall be directed to... [t]he development of respect
for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural
identity, language and values’ as well as ‘for the
national values of the country in which the child is
living, the country from which he or she may
originate, and for civilizations different from his
or her own.’ Only Somalia, South Sudan and the
United States have not ratiﬁed this Convention.
The ﬁndings | 19
A thorough reversal of EMI implementation was
reported to have taken place by a few respondents,
in their countries. Where EMI was reversed the
reasons for this were reported as being political
reasons, teacher protests, differences between
public and private sectors or fears that students
were performing badly.
The Hungarian government, for example, was
concerned that EMI was beneﬁting only a small
number of learners and was costly to operate.
Qatar, which switched to EMI in public schools
and state universities during the reform era,
reported a possible movement away from EMI.
Indonesia is an interesting example of a country
where the respondent reported that the move
towards EMI was being reversed. The national
language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia and there
are more than 700 vernacular languages. Until 2003
international EMI schools operating in Indonesia were
restricted to the children of expatriates. Education
Law Number 20 of 2003, article 50, relaxed these
restrictions and required that the central or regional
governments establish one ‘International Standard
School’ (ISS) at all levels, primary, junior, secondary
and senior secondary. This government sponsored
programme was implemented in 2006 in a special
stream of public schools, the Rintisan Sekotah
Bertaraf Internasional (RSBI) or International
Standard Schools (ISS) and was known as RSBI/SBI
or the International Standard Schools programme.
EMI was used for core subjects such as science
In 2013, parents, teachers and NGOs requested
that the Constitutional Court of Indonesia should
revoke the legislation on the RSBI/SBI programme.
The Constitutional Court approved the public appeal
to cancel the law governing ISS and declared the
law unconstitutional. This forced the Ministry of
Education and Culture to stop the programme as
from school year 2013–14. However, this rule does
not apply to private schools that choose to offer
English bilingual education.
The main argument used in the court case was that
EMI might endanger Indonesians’ national identity,
with the risk of the national unifying language Bahasa
Indonesia becoming the language of the poor, and
English becoming the language of the elite classes.
It was also argued that the use of EMI could hinder
students from loving Bahasa Indonesia and that the
use of English or any other language as a medium of
instruction (MoI) contradicts the spirit of the Youth
Pledge 1928, proclaiming three ideals: one
motherland, one nation and one language.
Some respondents reported that the countries
which they represent, despite the potential for
cultural devaluation, have moved in the opposite
direction and sanctioned EMI provision. Sri Lanka
is an example of this. EMI is limited to ﬁve subjects
by Circular 2008–12 which also states that students
cannot be streamed as EMI students. In other
subjects they must join those who study all subjects
through the Sinhala/Tamil medium of instruction.
However the attitude to EMI has changed as this
quote from our respondent in Sri Lanka shows:
In the immediate post-colonial period, English
was called the ‘kaduwa’, the ‘knife’ or ‘sword’ that
cut the Sri Lankan community from its heritage.
Sinhalese nationalism in the 1950s resulted in the
‘Sinhalese only’ laws, which saw both English and
Tamil downgraded (and was certainly a major step
towards the ethnic conﬂict). These days, English
has lost this association for most, though not quite
all, Sri Lankans, and is seen as the way to access
modernity and prosperity. EMI is widely seen
among the public as being valuable as a means
of learning English as a language/skill.
20 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 21
Case study: Hong Kong
Hong Kong has an almost unique political complexion
and is a country where the medium of instruction
has changed and changed again. As a former British
colony and now a Special Administrative Region (SAR)
of China, Hong Kong regards English as having high
social status and proﬁciency in English is considered
to be a prerequisite for good academic and career
prospects. Hence, when the colonial government was
adopting a non-intervention policy towards the
Medium of Instruction, over 90 per cent of secondary
schools claimed to be EMI. Following the handover
of Hong Kong from Britain to China, a mother tongue
policy was implemented in 1998 even though around
25 per cent of schools were permitted to remain as
EMI. A decade after 1998, the government introduced
its ‘ﬁne-tuning’ MoI policy: as long as they fulﬁl certain
criteria, secondary schools in Hong Kong can choose
to be EMI schools. This would internationally be
considered as ‘late start immersion’, where all
subjects (except Chinese History, Chinese Language
and Literature) are taught in English from Grade 7.
The ﬁne-tuning policy introduced in 2009 provided
a ﬂexible way in which schools could increase their
use of EMI according to student ability, teacher ability
and school preparedness. It allows schools to ‘adopt
diversiﬁed MOI arrangements’.
Currently around 30 per cent of secondary schools
are EMI schools and over 65 per cent of schools
use English to teach at least one academic subject.
The trend in Hong Kong is to increase EMI whilst
preserving mother tongue teaching. This in itself
is interesting and perhaps due to the fact that there
are an increasing number of school-aged students
for whom Cantonese is not the ﬁrst language.
Approximately 30 per cent of the Hong Kong
population was born in Mainland China, Taiwan or
Macau, and speak Mandarin as their ﬁrst language,
while other immigrant families come from India,
Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In Hong Kong, the student’s proﬁciency level in
English is a determining factor in decisions about
when to introduce EMI and children are tested at
primary six (aged 11), prior to being accepted in a
particular type of school or language programme.
Those classiﬁed as suitable for EMI schools need
to be among the top 40 per cent in both English
language and Chinese language in public
Hong Kong has 17 local degree-awarding higher
education institutions, eight of which are funded
through the government’s University Grants Council.
Among these eight government-funded institutions
(seven universities and one teacher training
institution), only two maintain a bilingual/trilingual
policy, whereas the others are all English-medium
universities. Students in the teacher training
institution (except English language majors) are
required to take only 25 per cent of courses taught in
English. There was a proposal that English should be
used for more courses, but this immediately aroused
debate among the teaching and academic staff.
In universities which implement an EMI policy almost
all courses at different levels (except Chinese-related
subjects or foreign language courses) are taught
In one university, the student evaluation questionnaire
conducted at the end of each course includes a
question about the percentage of English used as
the medium of instruction in lessons; it is thought
that the university closely monitors the use of English
as the MoI .
While there are news reports or television
programmes about the MoI in secondary schools
from time to time, there has been very little
discussion about the MoI in universities in the mass
media. In a piece of news in October 2013 about the
MoI of some courses at a post-secondary institution
(not a university), some international students
complained that the lecturers mainly used Cantonese
as the MoI in class, which was different from what
was stated in the programme information. This raised
some concerns about the language proﬁciency of
4.4 Public opinion on EMI
In the 55 countries researched, 51 per cent of
respondents reported that EMI was thought to be
controversial in public opinion, 38 per cent thought
that public opinion was in favour of EMI and 11 per
cent did not give an answer. By ‘controversial’ was
meant that there were different shades of opinion or
that individuals might be torn between one attitude
and another, rather than public opinion being
wholeheartedly against. The reasons given for
the controversy in public opinion were interesting.
These reﬂected many of the reasons mentioned
in the earlier sections, including the desire to protect
national languages and cultures, a concern that
policies had not been clearly thought through,
and that EMI was potentially divisive and could lead
to social inequalities.
The ﬁndings | 21
In Indonesia, for example it was reported that the
public were questioning the nature of huge funding
allocated for minor and generally already well-off state
schools. They were also questioning whether EMI was
something that students in the public school system
really needed. Concern was expressed that not all
teachers were competent or able to teach through
EMI, with a possible generation gap: older teachers
not having sufﬁcient English language proﬁciency.
A concern was also apparent with regard to home
students who might ﬁnd it too demanding and not
be able to fully comprehend the academic input.
Figure 5: Percentage of the 55 countries where
respondents thought that public opinion was in favour
of EMI, against it or found it controversial
In favour Controversial
Not answered/not applicable
Parental pressure was reported as a major factor
promoting EMI. Respondents in the 55 Countries
study reported that EMI is equated in parents’
minds with good education and learning outcomes.
In Mainland China, for example, in the private
education sector, ‘EMI is used to convey that a school
has a high proﬁle, is international and provides a
noble or elite education’. Parents consider EMI as
a way for their children to become part of a social
elite and are willing to spend a large part of their
income on giving their children an EMI education.
Schools may therefore be under pressure to
exaggerate their EMI offer as shown in the quotes
from respondents below:
Diverse, very diverse belief systems. Some think
this is instrumental in developing a good command
of English. Others think that it hinders Hungarian
language development. Generally speaking,
well-educated parents are very happy about EMI
primary and secondary schools. It is an important
criteria of selecting schools.
EMI is ‘highly supported by parents’. There is
‘[s]ome dissent from academics’. Parents support
English especially in the south where private
schools are offering EMI earlier and earlier.
Public opinion is demanding EMI especially in
primary and secondary education as English is
considered a fundamental skill crucial for mobility
and employability and not simply a foreign
language. Provision of bilingual/ CLIL education is
considered a vote winner by public administrations.
The vast majority of parents want their kids to
learn English at school, and there have been cases
in the public sector where parental pressure has
forced local education authorities to retain an EFL
programme that was under threat.
Schools have been notiﬁed that their information
about EMI must be accurate and if found not to
be will receive feedback and perhaps a warning.
This may be an indicator that there may be
situations where schools exaggerate their EMI
offer. Newspaper reports of schools with
increased amounts of EMI being inundated
by applications may be exaggerated.
Demand for EMI is on the increase, particularly at
the school level, in order to access opportunities
in the tertiary level and for employment. EMI is
equated with good education and learning outcome,
but studies don’t support this parental assumption.
22 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 23
The following quotes are from our respondents and
they illustrate the various reasons why the general
public might be in favour of EMI and why they might
ﬁnd it controversial.
The following quotes from respondents portray
public opinion in favour of EMI:
No controversy, yet. It is expected in Germany to
spend some time abroad, there are many initiatives
to encourage study abroad. And there is a high
expectation that everyone speaks a second
language or has a reasonable level of English.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
No public controversy with EMI. The public would
appreciate that foreign languages (English really)
are included in core curriculum from Grade 1
and this is not the case. There were a number
of demands in this direction and government
has responded in some parts of the country.
Positive attitude towards EMI. Because the demand
in the employment market is vast, EMI is perceived
as means of possible improvement of suitable
employment chances. The public is very much
interested in seeing EMI as a part of the teaching
curriculum, but more work needs to be done on
the policy level.
No major controversies, public opinion seems
positive but there exist a variety of views.
EMI is positively received in general. This
arrangement is predominantly offered to foreign
students in the country.
Public opinion is positive. English is recognised
as a basic skill and there is prestige attached to
English ability including better jobs.
Public opinion is positive. The MOE rationale
for introducing English at the primary school
level is that this is what parents want and they
advocate the ‘earlier is better’ approach to
I think public opinion is in favour of keeping EMI.
Public opinion is mainly positive. Demand for EMI
is on the increase, particularly at the school level,
in order to access opportunities in the tertiary
level and for employment. EMI is equated with
good education and learning outcomes, but
studies don’t support this parental assumption.
EMI is being encouraged yet only the most
talented children join bilingual classes.
The following quotes from respondents suggest
greater equivocation in public opinion:
It is seen as economically worthwhile by parents
and employers but it is politically sensitive in a
country with four national languages.
At university level the increase in the provision
of courses in English is largely considered
essential if Spanish universities are to compete
for international students. There has been some
public controversy around the assessment and
standardisation of levels of English in tertiary
education and at all levels about the poor level
of English of pupils and students.
In HE, EMI is welcome more broadly. A general
controversy usually focuses on the comprehension
of students on an EMI course.
The ﬁndings | 23
Critics of the Malay Language as a medium of
communication policy (MBMMBI) believed that the
abolishing of PPSMI (the teaching and learning
of science and mathematics in English) was made
to appease the Malay conservatives and
nationalists ahead of the general election in 2009.
The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia
(PAGE) plays a huge part in representing the voice
of pro-PPSMI parents who are hoping that the
Ministry will reinstate and allow PPSMI policy to
continue alongside MBMMBI. However, their wish
It is very much seen at the moment as something
for the elite. There may be some controversy over
the introduction of state-funded EMI schools as
many believe there are more useful areas of
education that could be invested in, in what is
considered as an inadequate education system.
In a minority of countries public opinion appears
to be quite negative:
Lots of controversy and not welcome due to the
way it was implemented.
People have become increasingly aware of the
complexities involved in its introduction. There have
been some riots as some teachers objected to it.
System-wide national deployment (of EMI) would
be seen negatively, in part due to the reactions
towards the UK emerging from the Malvinas/
Falklands issue combined with claims and the
status of Spanish as the national language and
ofﬁcial language for local education.
It has been considered unsuccessful due to
the lack of consideration of the fact that most
teachers do not teach in their home town, and
may be teaching in an environment where the
predominant home language is foreign to the
4.5. Teaching and learning through EMI
Respondents were asked to report on any issues
centring directly on teaching and learning through
EMI. In summary, and as well as a general concern as
to whether EMI produced better or worse outcomes,
their replies touched on the following areas:
a lack of EMI teachers
a lack of resources
a lack of clear guidelines for teaching.
whether English alone should be used or
whether a mixture of English and L1 might
permitted or advised
subjects which are taught through EMI
exams and assessment
the age at which EMI starts, policies on age
a standard level of English for EMI teachers
the changing role of the teacher
the role of language centres and English teachers.
An EMI teacher in a school or university which has
successfully attracted international students is faced
with a class of students many of whom may not speak
the teacher’s L1. One would imagine that a minimum
requirement would be a sufﬁciently high level of
English proﬁciency to be able to operate in that
language. However, one could hypothesise that they
would additionally need to ﬁnd alternative ways of
presenting academic material to students for whom
English was also a second language. In which case
similar skills required of an EFL teacher would need
to be found in an EMI teacher. They would need to
know how to modify their input, assure
comprehension via student-initiated interactional
modiﬁcations and create an atmosphere where
students operating in an L2 are not afraid to speak;
all this whilst taking into account the many cultural
differences present in the room and the potentially
different language levels of individuals.
In the preliminary study teachers were found to have
limited self-experienced or no previous understanding
of the implications of teaching through EMI. If it is
indeed the case that teaching through EMI involves
changing from a teacher-led style to a more
interactive dynamic, then few teachers said they had
considered the idea that EMI was not simply a matter
of translating course material and slides from L1 to
L2. Recall that these teachers were on the British
Council’s ATE courses and so must have been aware
that they faced language problems when teaching in
EMI, yet certainly at least at the beginning of the
course were not sure what these problems were.
24 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 25
They were asked to rank seven attributes of an
EMI lecturer. The most important attributes were
considered to be ‘the ability to explain difﬁcult
concepts’ and ‘the ability to create an interactive
environment’. The least important attributes were
considered to be ‘a belief that you can help students
improve their English’, ‘a reﬂective approach’ and
‘an awareness of the potentially diverse cultural
backgrounds of the students’.
One interpretation of the Bologna process is that
it is a lever for forcing change in higher education
pedagogy. If teachers teaching through English are
sufﬁciently skilled only to deliver a more ‘monologic’
approach and less skilled at engaging in a dialogue
or interaction, how can they convey and discuss
difﬁcult concepts in their subject in English?
A monologic approach also sits uneasily alongside
the belief that EMI is a new tool for authentic
language learning in the classroom and a
multilingual and multicultural tool for developing
4.5.1 EMI teacher qualiﬁcations
Overwhelmingly, the respondents in the 55 Countries
study felt that there were not enough qualiﬁed
teachers. In answer to the question ‘Are there
enough qualiﬁed teachers in your country to teach
through EMI?’ the answer was a resounding ‘No’
with 83 per cent of countries responding in this way.
Only one country, Ghana, responded that it had
enough qualiﬁed teachers; this was surprising in
view of the earlier negative attitude expressed
by ‘public opinion’.
Figure 6: Percentage of the 55 countries answering
Yes or No to the question ‘Are there enough qualiﬁed
Yes No Not answered/not applicable
Difﬁculties were expressed in resourcing EMI exams,
securing the appropriate number of qualiﬁed teachers
and providing the learning materials and textbooks.
In the preliminary research, two universities gave no
consideration to the extra time needed to prepare a
lesson in EMI while the other university counted an
EMI lesson as one and a half times the teaching stint
of an L1 lesson.
It appears therefore that policy makers in many
countries insist on introducing EMI for reasons of
economic growth, prestige and internationalisation
without considering the teaching resources needed to
ensure its proper implementation such as sufﬁciently
trained teachers, materials and assessment.
4.5.2 Guidelines on how to teach through EMI
Although 27 per cent of respondents reported that
their country had had some limited guidelines about
how to teach through EMI, 60 per cent reported
none. Moreover in very few countries adopting EMI
was there a clear strategy in terms of educational
structure with regard to EMI. For example one might
have expected some guidelines or policy on a
phased introduction, or a recognition that schools or
universities had to reach a certain level of proﬁciency
before they could adopt an EMI course, as in the
Hong Kong model described above.
Figure 7: The percentage of respondents reporting
on the existence of written guidelines about how to
teach through EMI
Yes No Not answered/not applicable
The only countries where some written guidelines
about how to teach through EMI were reported were
the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong,
Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Netherlands,
Pakistan, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and
Taiwan. Even here it was not clear what level of
advice was being provided.
The ﬁndings | 25
One issue which has been the focus of research
and practice interest in the EFL sphere is that of
‘codeswitching’ or the use of the L1 in the L2
classroom as opposed to English-only. Clearly this is
also a contested area in the EMI content classroom.
76 per cent of respondents reported their country as
having no written guidelines specifying whether or not
English should be the only language used in the EMI
classroom. Only Qatar, Zambia, Vietnam and Ghana
reported having such guidance. The EFL ﬁeld has for
some time now come to recognise that principled
codeswitching could be beneﬁcial for L2 learning in a
classroom situation where the teacher and students
or students and students share an L1. Clearly this may
also be applicable to the EMI classroom.
Figure 8: Percentage of respondents who reported
their country having guidance on using English-only
Yes No Not answered/not applicable
There are fur ther questions as to the use and
future of the home language. If students learn their
academic subject only in English, what happens to
those concepts and technical terms in their home
language – do they survive? If English-only is being
used, and a teacher is not proﬁcient, what kind of
English are the students going to be exposed to?
4.5.3 Subjects taught and subjects
examined through EMI
Guidance is given in some countries as to which
subjects should be taught in English, but the basis
for those decisions is not clear. There is also a great
difference between countries: in Pakistan, for
example, the National Education Policy 2009 set
out two subjects which should be taught through
EMI: Maths and Science. In Sri Lanka, however,
ten subjects can be taught through EMI and more
subjects can be taught if the students want this and
permission is sought from the Ministry of Education.
Maths, English literature, translation, science,
engineering, physics, business, geography, biology,
agriculture, chemistry, arts, history, medicine,
international relations, regional studies, and religious
education were all quoted as subjects taught
through EMI. In other words there is no subject
which is clearly designed as a subject that can only
be appropriately taught in the majority students’
home language. Yet medicine might be a subject
where learning it through the L2 might result in
problems when qualiﬁed students begin to practise.
Whilst it may be advantageous to be able to read the
many medical journals written in English thanks to a
putative improved English language proﬁciency
resulting from EMI, how will a doctor who has not
experienced clinically-oriented interaction in his/her
home language during training perform when talking
to patients who may not speak a word of English?
Table 3: Number of respondents reporting
that the subject was taught or assessed through
EMI in their country
English and literature 7
International relations 1
Regional studies 1
Religious education 1
26 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 27
Exams and assessment were also described as being
problematic. Respondents reported that at university
level, lectures were sometimes in English while
exams were in L1 due to university policy, student
pressure or the law, or subjects were not taught in
English but were assessed in English. In Taiwan, for
example, English Literature is not taught in English
but it is assessed in English. In Nepal, in English
medium schools, subjects such as Social Studies
and Histor y are taught in a mixed approach but
assessed in English. Our respondent in Mauritius
reported that this was the case for all subjects.
EMI raises many questions for exams and
assessment: What language should exams be in?
What form should they take? Do teachers have a
sufﬁciently high level of English to write and mark
exams? What is being assessed, the English or
the subject content?
4.5.4 Age of EMI introduction
Traditionally, students have learnt English as a
Foreign Language (EFL) at school, in other words
English as a subject in its own right. A question to
be asked therefore would be at what point, if at all,
should EMI take over from EFL?
At university level, in our preliminary study, teachers
knew vaguely what level of English their students
needed in order to follow a course in EMI at university,
although expressing this varied from ‘quite good’ to
quoting the Common European Framework B2 (CEF).
Policies around the world vary enormously.
The examples below illustrate the diversity of practice
in this area.
In Italy in 2010, legislation regarding content and
language integrated learning (CLIL) methodology
(DD.PP.RR. 87, 88, 89 15/03/2010) was introduced
in the last year of higher secondary education
(starting in language schools from the third year).
In the Netherlands the starting point for all phases
of formal education is Dutch. However, government
policy is in place with regards to English as a subject
in primary education. Policy concerning EMI
(especially Early English and bilingual education) is
currently in the making. Government policy with
regards to EMI in secondary mostly focuses on
bilingual schools. In tertiary education, there is
a policy in place that allows instruction in other
languages if: 1) the language in question is the object
of study; 2) there are guest lecturers whose ﬁrst
language is not Dutch; 3) it is necessary due to the
speciﬁc nature of the subject, for the quality of the
education or the background of the students.
In Pakistan, science and mathematics education
through EMI should take place at Class IV onwards.
This is still at primar y school, which consists of ﬁve
classes, I-V, and enrols children age ﬁve–nine years.
It is also possible to teach Science and Maths in Urdu
for the ﬁrst ﬁve years; but after that, the statement
is clear: both should be taught in English only.
In Ethiopia, English is the medium of instruction at
secondary school and at university, whilst the policy
from 1994 states that English is taught as a foreign
language from year 1 of primary school.
In Sri Lanka, ten subjects can be taught in English;
and if a school wishes, it can teach more subjects
through EMI but no teaching resources will be supplied.
In Nepal, the Nepali language or English language
or both can be used.
In Hungary the Education Act of 1985 made it
possible to carry out education in a language
other than Hungarian. Secondary CLIL (1985) was
a Ministry initiated, top-down innovation. From 2004
all secondary schools were allowed to initiate a
special extra preparatory year for students, with
an intensive language development programme.
In 2004, 407 schools were implementing the extra
preparatory year. In higher education, CLIL, which
may well mean EMI in this context, is also allowed,
and encouraged to a certain extent.
In 1997 the Ministry of Education declared some
guiding principles for all schools where education is
carried out in a language different from Hungarian:
these were aimed at CLIL schools:
an adequate number of lessons must be
devoted to language development
CLIL schools have to adopt a speciﬁc
the civilization of the target language countries
must be taught
three or more subjects must be taught in the
the target language must be present in
35–50 per cent of the students’ time-table
the school must employ at least one teacher
whose native language is the target language
of the programme.
Schools working under the above conditions are
entitled to receive additional per capita ﬁnancial
support from the educational budget.
The ﬁndings | 27
4.5.5 Levels of English for EMI teachers
Respondents reported that most teachers who
were expected to teach through EMI were not
native speakers of English, and it is as yet unclear
what the requirements are with regard to English
In the preliminary research, teachers found it
difﬁcult to answer the question on what level a
teacher should have before teaching through EMI
and how teachers should reach an appropriate
level of English.
Phew, wow, I’m not sure what level the teacher
needs, erm, it’s not necessary that the teacher
needs a higher level than the students.
Pof...Good question.. I don’t know actually …
at least you have to be able to understand the
questions of the students.
I think for technical disciplines we don’t need very
deep knowledge of the language. The vocabulary
is 400 or 500 words.
Teachers in the preliminary study and respondents
in the 55 Countries study were unaware of a language
level, test or qualiﬁcation for EMI teachers. They had
been nominated to teach through EMI because they
had been abroad, spoke well or had volunteered.
Teachers would welcome a standard level of
proﬁciency in English for EMI.
Professors and staff not ﬂuent in English are
sometimes expected to gain proﬁciency by taking
weekly English classes. Whether or not this is
sufﬁcient training to enable teachers to be able
to work in English is open to debate.
In most countries there is currently no standardised
English benchmark test for subject teachers teaching
through EMI. As one teacher in the preliminary study
We intentionally left out a standard as requirement
as it’s dif ﬁcult enough to encourage faculty to
teach in English.
Sometimes the level of English was thought
to be very basic, and inadequate for teaching
an academic subject.
A study by MoEC on English language competences
of teachers and principals in 549 international
standard schools in 2009 found that the overall
picture is of a teacher workforce which is not ready
to function in English and where more than half of
all teachers possess a level of ‘novice’, that is, a
competence which is even lower than ‘elementary’.
In Ethiopia, teachers were considered to be qualiﬁed
if they were university or college graduates, but the
low level of English proﬁciency was a problem.
The public wants their children to learn in English
(more) than in any other language but educated
parents feel that the teachers’ proﬁciency level is
very low and usually complain of not having
competent teachers in public schools.
Most of them are expatriates and work in private
schools and universities.
EMI is not a priority at Teacher Education level
where it comes to state funded education. In
private education, this is a huge concern for the
low cost sector, but in elite, urban schools, this is
not an issue as they have access to teachers with
C1 to C2 levels of English for reasons of class and
28 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 29
In many countries there was a generation gap.
Younger teachers were more likely to speak English,
while it was thought that older, more experienced
subject teachers were struggling to teach through
EMI. These quotes from respondents illustrate
There is a dearth of qualiﬁed respondents to cover
the need especially at primary and secondary level
and more in public sector. Primary and secondary
school teachers across Pakistan are not fully
qualiﬁed to use English as a Medium of Instruction.
The British Council tested the English language
skills of 2008 primary and middle school teachers
in public and private schools in 18 districts of
Punjab using the British Council’s Aptis language
testing system. According to the ﬁndings:
1. 62 per cent of private school teachers and
56 per cent of government school teachers
registered scores in the lowest possible band
in the Aptis test, meaning they lack even basic
knowledge of English, including the ability to
understand and use familiar everyday
expressions and simple phrases.
2. Most of the remaining teachers received scores
that placed them in beginners’ level.
3. Even in EMI schools, 44 per cent of teachers
scored in the bottom Aptis band. In all, 94 per
cent of teachers in EMI schools have only
pre-intermediate level of English or lower.
4. Younger teachers had a much higher level of
English than older colleagues. 24 per cent of
teachers aged 21–35 scored in the pre-
intermediate and intermediate categories,
compared with just seven per cent of those
aged 51 and over.
4.5.6 The changing role of the teacher
Another issue is the changing role of the teacher in
an EMI context. EMI teachers in the preliminary study
ﬁrmly believed that teaching English was not their job.
They did not consider themselves responsible for their
students’ level of English. They did not see themselves
as language teachers in any way. University teachers
deﬁnitely thought that EMI was beneﬁcial to students
and more speciﬁcally, that students made progress
in English when they studied through EMI. Teachers
felt that the students would improve their English by
being exposed to it, by having to express themselves
and by reading and writing:
For sure yes, they will be exposed to more input,
Yes because they are forced to communicate
with me in English and forced to think in English.
I’m sure they will improve because they have to
express themselves and collect the vocabulary
to express and for their writing.
It was thought that improvement in English
proﬁciency would happen as a by-product of the
content lessons and most interviewees in the
preliminary study ﬁrmly believed that students were
responsible for their own progress. We may ask how
students are supposed to understand lectures and
classes if the EMI teacher does not help with their
knowledge of English by paraphrasing, by teaching
subject-speciﬁc vocabulary and technical terms.
I’m not interested in their English, I’m interested in
their comprehension of micro-biogenetics
errr I don’t think so, I’m not going to improve (their)
English. I’m going to transfer basic knowledge, try
to communicate in a correct way but I’m not going
to correct or teach them English.
The ﬁndings | 29
If subject teachers do not consider it their job
to improve the students’ English, whose job is it?
This raises the question of what sort of teachers
are required to teach an academic subject through
EMI? Clearly these attitudes are what separates
EMI from CLIL where the notion of fur thering
language competence is built into the acronym.
It would be useful to consider what English language
provision will be in the future and who will be
delivering it; some thoughts on this are offered
in the concluding section.
4.6 Internationalising higher education
One of the main aims of policy makers, teachers,
parents and students in implementing EMI is to
internationalise the education on offer in their
country, particularly in the higher education phase.
The very notion of ‘internationalisation of universities’
is a contested one. Internationalising a university can
be conceived in the narrow sense of attracting and
admitting foreign students. It may additionally be
conceived as attracting and employing international
faculty. However internationalisation can mean much
more than this. It may be that a university strives to
prepare its home students for an international world
and in order to do this the very nature of a university
located in a single geographical space begins to
In the study 72 per cent of respondents answered
that in their country universities admitted international
students. However, in many cases the numbers were
said to be not substantial or even negligible.
Figure 9: Percentage of 55 countries who have
Yes No Not answered
In this rush to internationalise, there may be
variability in the quality of student experience for
an international student. Are international students
receiving the same content as home students?
Quotes from teachers in the preliminary study
They end up being taught individually as the main
course is taught in L1.
A special course for foreigners.
Some of these teachers claimed that older university
teachers might hand over their teaching to younger
teachers if it had to be done through EMI, as they felt
incapable of delivering lectures in English.
We are lucky because we have two PhD students
from India so they speak very well English and they
have given the seminars, we give them the
literature and the papers.
The speed at which universities are internationalising
and English is being used as the academic lingua
franca is accelerating. Ironically, EMI means that
learning in English no longer means going to a UK
or US university. In Europe for example, the number
of courses taught in English is increasing rapidly due
to the Bologna process and these courses attract
international students from around the world.
In South Africa, the respondent reported that
7.25 per cent of university students were non-South
African, with the majority (46,496) coming from
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
countries: Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland,
Mozambique and Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia,
whilst the next largest group (10,986) came from the
rest of the world, notably from the USA (7,302).
Universities are becoming increasingly international
in the sense that their campuses are also becoming
global. South Sudan for example is working with
universities in the USA to train agriculture specialists
and New York University has bases in Africa, Asia,
Europe, the Middle East and South America. This new
sort of global university with partnerships and
campuses around the world, is facilitated by EMI.
30 | The ﬁndings The ﬁndings | 31
Case study: Taiwan
According to our respondents in Taiwan:
The Ministry of Education (MoE) of Taiwan
is encouraging universities to establish
an international environment, including
internationalised campuses, curricula and
administration systems, and to promote
global cooperation and exchanges.
The ofﬁcial language of instruction in the country
is Mandarin Chinese. The Ministry of Education is
encouraging EMI at university level. There are 60
public universities and 100 private universities in
Taiwan and EMI is an important benchmark to
internationalise a university, improve its international
competitiveness and attract international students.
The MoE provides incentives to HE academics who
lecture in English e.g. an EMI lecturer may have a
Teaching Assistant assigned to help students
understand the course content and receive
sponsorship for overseas training.
Foreign students are the bridge of international
friendship. The number of foreign students is
not only a key indicator of a nation’s educational
internationalization and competitiveness, but also
the characteristic of the nation’s national appeal
and international inﬂuence. Therefore, the more
advanced the nation, the more foreign students it
has and the more efforts it has made to attract
There is more EMI at university level than in schools.
In tertiary education, the courses that are most likely
to be taught in English are at master and doctoral
degree level: English, Commerce, Engineering, MBA
According to the 2007 statistics of the MoE, there
were 2651 primary schools, 740 junior high schools,
320 senior high schools, and 156 vocational high
schools. EMI is allowed by the central and local
governments in all stages of education in private
and state schools. In state primary and secondary
schools, only Mandarin as a subject and a few
dialects cannot be taught in English. However, even
though the ideal is for English (as a subject) classes
to be taught in English as much as possible, most
English classes are still said to be delivered in
Mandarin. In state primary and secondary schools,
a proportion of native English-speaking teachers
are hired to teach English. In private primary and
secondary schools, native English-speaking teachers
teach all kinds of academic subjects.
In 2003, the Executive Yuan (the policymaking
organ of the government) ordered that the task of
attracting more foreign students to study in Taiwan
be included in the National Development Plan, with
the objectives of raising national competitiveness
and fully exploiting global exchange, solidifying
diplomatic relations, providing high-tech individuals,
ﬁlling the population deﬁcit, making education a
services industry, and promoting economic
development. The target for attracting foreign
students to study in Taiwan was ‘ten times in ten
years’ from 1,283 in 2002 to 12,830 in 2011.
The MoE’s policy is to attract more foreign students
to study in Taiwan, to encourage Taiwanese students
to study abroad, and to promote international
cultural and educational exchange and cooperation.
The distinction is not so clear in state or private
universities, although state universities often have
better students whose tendency to select an EMI
course is higher than that of average private
university students. Universities have autonomy
in course design and delivery. Some universities
have delivered EMI courses to attract international
students; the MoE has budgets to encourage EMI,
but controversies arise as to whether EMI has been
effective in teaching and successful in attracting
international students. In 2012–13, the number of
university students was 1,254,066. The total of
international students studying for a degree in
Taiwan was 11,554 so slightly below the target set for
2011. The top ﬁve countries these students are from
are Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and the USA.
There is little EMI in primary and secondary schools.
In state primary and secondary education, courses
delivered by native English-speaking teachers are
taught in English. The average number of hours
per week taught in English is one or even lower
because most schools have no native English-
speaking teachers. In private primary and secondary
education, this may be ﬁve hours or higher. In state
primary and secondary schools, all subjects are
taught in Mandarin except for English, which is
taught in English and Mandarin.
The ﬁndings | 31
There are some local dialects and indigenous
languages which are different from the majority
language. In 2012, the ratio of indigenous students
in primary/secondary/tertiary education to overall
student population was 2.75 per cent. There are no
large immigrant communities whose language is
different from the majority language.
The vast majority of primary and secondary school
teachers are not bilingual teachers – they speak the
majority language in school. The majority of university
professors speak English since most of them have a
PhD degree. However, that does not mean they are
well trained to deliver courses in English.
The percentage of English-speaking monolingual
teachers employed in state institutions (all three
phases) who teach academic or vocational subjects
is very low. In primary and secondar y education,
the only English-speaking monolingual teachers
employed in primary and secondary education
are foreign English teachers.
There is no professional standard that a qualiﬁed
EMI teacher has to reach. Each university may have
its own standards and no provision for EMI on Initial
Teacher Education programmes. In primary and
secondary education, local state school English
teacher-trainees participate in teacher training to
enhance their teaching methodologies but there are
no training opportunities that are designed to train
other subject teachers to teach their subject through
the medium of English. The Ministry of Education
or local education bureau sends experienced local
state school teachers overseas for school visits
or short courses (two weeks), e.g. Content and
Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) could be a
module part of a course, depending on the design
of the course or the needs of the education bureau.
32 | Looking ahead Looking ahead | 33
Broad conclusions have already been offered in the
Executive summary. The report now limits itself to
considering what the likely trends and implications
are for EMI in the future.
In the 55 country study, respondents were asked to
comment on what they thought future trends were
with regard to EMI. They reported that overwhelmingly
there would very likely be an increase in EMI provision
(see Figure 10).
Figure 10: General trend of EMI for the future
– more, less, same or mixed?
Mixed Not answered
What this means for the future of the academic
subjects being taught through the medium of English
is an empirical question that urgently needs some
well researched answers. To date we have some
evidence from immersion programmes in Canada
and some from Hong Kong. Whereas some bilingual
programmes have shown advantage (or at least
comparable achievement) for immersion in terms
of academic achievement, in Hong Kong recent
large-scale studies tend to suggest that EMI may
help with L2 learning, but is not necessarily beneﬁcial
to academic progress. Some research has been
carried out in the CLIL European context but once
again the evidence is inconclusive because of the
many different typologies of CLIL programmes.
The evidence from the data collected for this
report suggests that the private sector will continue
to drive the push for EMI for some years to come.
Apart from notable exceptions alluded to earlier,
the private sector, relatively free of national political
and cultural constraints will continue to portray EMI
as the distinguishing feature of its educational offer.
Some public institutions may therefore be constantly
playing ‘catch-up’ in order to survive as places where
quality education can be accessed.
With regard to furthering competence in English as
an L2, the picture is slightly more encouraging.
Given the amount of exposure to English that EMI
provides, it would be surprising if it were anything
other than encouraging. However, again the evidence
is mixed with some indications that receptive skills
improve but not productive skills. Future discussion
about what the linguistic objectives of EMI
programmes are must take place if it is not to remain
a sclerotic practice with limited beneﬁts, or at least
beneﬁts that can only be measured in a limited way.
Moreover, if future research evidence suggests
improvements in English language competence,
then the debate must also include the nature of that
competence and whether it should be enabling access
to learning in a narrow sense (just the academic
subject to be studied) or a broader sense of being
able to operate using English as a lingua franca in
a number of different interactional scenarios.
The question therefore needs to be asked as to
whether and to what extent EMI can follow the same
dual objective ideals of CLIL – that is to integrate
content learning with language acquisition. This then
brings a whole new dimension into the discussion
– whether EMI teachers should be language teachers
as well as content teachers and therefore whether
they should be speciﬁcally trained as such. This debate
is not new. It occurred in 1975 in the UK context when
Sir Alan Bullock’s report A Language for Life argued
strongly for a policy of language across the curriculum,
one where all subject teachers were responsible for
furthering the linguistic competence
Looking ahead | 33
of their students. Will the future be one of ‘English
across the curriculum’ for all countries adopting EMI
for academic subjects? Given some of the evidence
gathered from university teachers for this report it
would seem to be unlikely – at least in the immediate
future until and unless there is clear evidence that
EMI is or is not resulting in the desired outcomes.
If EMI teachers slowly become more or additionally
like language teachers then is it the case that
EMI will gradually replace EFL as the main vehicle
for furthering English language proﬁciency? The
evidence so far is that this is already occurring to
a limited extent but may well accelerate as a trend
when government agencies and principals begin to
consider their inevitably limited resources. This in
turn raises further questions. What will be the
role of language centres and preparatory year
(pre-sessional) teachers and what status will they
have in a rapidly developing EMI context?
Another implication, should the trend of EMI
replacing EFL accelerate and increase in volume,
is the status of the native speaker of English teacher
of academic subjects. There has been an increasingly
acrimonious debate in the EFL ﬁeld centred around
‘who is better’, the native speaker of English who
cannot communicate to any operational level with
their students (who have a different home language)
or the bilingual speaker who may not have near-
native proﬁciency in English but knows the L1 of
his/her students and therefore may be able to relate to
the linguistic challenges that they are experiencing.
The same debate may then arise in the EMI ﬁeld with
‘imported’ English native speaker university academics
and school teachers being highly valued and elbowing
out their ‘locally produced’ counterparts. This may
well already be happening as universities increasingly
conceptualise ‘internationalisation’ by attempting to
attract overseas (and very likely anglophone) faculty.
One thing of which we can be reasonably sure:
given the current momentum observed in the EMI
phenomenon it is highly unlikely that the majority
of countries, certainly in the tertiary phase, will seek
to reverse the decision to push forward with even
more courses taught in English. If the phenomenon
cannot be slowed down to a speed that will allow
reﬂection, then at the very least it is encumbent on
researchers and teachers alike to strive to make the
experience for their learners as enabling and as
rewarding as possible.
34 | Bibliography
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© British Council 2014 / E484
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.