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Defining English medium instruction: striving for comparative equivalence

Rose, H. ORCID:, Macaro, E., Sahan, K. ORCID:, Aizawa, I., Zhou, S. and Wei, M. (2023) Defining English medium instruction: striving for comparative equivalence. Language Teaching, 56 (4). pp. 539-550. ISSN 0261-4448

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0261444821000483


English medium instruction (EMI) is a term historically used to refer to educational practices where academic subjects are taught in a non-majority language—typically a minority, second or foreign language for students. With increased student and faculty mobility in higher education, some scholars have sought to expand the scope of EMI to include universities in Anglophone contexts. In this paper, the EMI Oxford Research Group provides a research-informed argument for maintaining a definition of EMI that is restricted to English medium educational practices in regions where the majority language of the wider population is not English. We base our arguments on key differences between these contexts in terms of their historical underpinnings, educational language policy, expectations surrounding language use, and teaching-related issues. We conclude the paper by offering a definitional conceptualisation of EMI as a central construct around which several important dimensions exist. These dimensions intend to capture key differences in how EMI is manifested in various contexts. Nonetheless we acknowledge that broader comparisons of dimensions of English medium forms of education are warranted if researchers can robustly establish their comparability.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:103210
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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