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Uncovering English-Medium Instruction

Glocal Issues in Higher Education

Branka Drljača Margić and Irena Vodopija-Krstanović

English-medium instruction (EMI) is a complex educational innovation and a prerequisite for active participation in the process of internationalizing academia. Given its impact on today’s universities, it is crucial that EMI should be effectively and responsibly implemented.

This book draws on a range of theoretical and empirical insights to explore the implications of EMI for stakeholders and describe the measures that should be taken to capitalize on its strengths and respond to its challenges. Using questionnaires, interviews and classroom observation, the authors investigate two academic communities – one that has undertaken instruction in English and one that has not – to weave together teacher and student attitudes, experiences, expectations and needs, along with comparative findings from classroom practice in Croatian and English.

By analysing EMI in a local academic context against the backdrop of the global higher education landscape, this book offers a glocal perspective and opens up new avenues for reflection and action that will be relevant to
educational institutions undergoing change.

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Chapter 2: Reasons for introducing EMI and the ensuing challenges for universities


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Reasons for introducing EMI and the ensuing challenges for universities

In recent years, EMI has emerged as a growing trend in tertiary education; that is, universities have increased the number of courses and programmes in English. This initiative is underpinned by the widespread belief that instruction in English contributes to the attainment of economic, cultural and educational gains. Conversely, universities which do not offer courses in English will not be able to compete on the educational market and will not have an international student body, thus risking being left out in the cold (cf. Björkman 2010; Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra 2011; Healey 2008).

One of the main reasons why universities are adopting a policy of internationalization is to modernize and to enhance their competitiveness, visibility and ranking position (Altbach and Knight 2007; Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra 2011; Hu 2009; Hughes 2008). Participation in the EMI scheme is used as an assessment criterion (Altbach and Knight 2007; Hu 2009) and can improve an institution’s international rankings and status both in local and international contexts (Hughes 2008; Wilkinson 2013). To date, the international education scene has been dominated by institutions from English-speaking countries (Hughes 2008), for which programmes in English are a ‘global export industry’ (Sakurai, McCall-Wolf and Kashima 2010: 176). If English is the modern currency in international education, then EMI must be adopted in non-English-speaking countries if they are to compete on equal footing with English-speaking countries...

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