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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 8: Interpreting the data and painting a bigger picture


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Interpreting the data and painting a bigger picture

Exploration of EMI in practice reveals the stakeholders’ attitudes, experiences and feelings. A positive feeling ascribed to EMI is that it boosts one’s self-esteem, and the teachers and students say that engagement in an English-taught programme makes them feel good about themselves. At the same time, they claim not to be as natural and self-confident in these classes as they are or would be in Croatian-taught courses. However, despite anxiety and the other challenges they encounter, their openness and enthusiasm for education in English prevent the students from regretting their decision to enrol on an English-taught programme and motivate the teachers to continue taking part in the innovative practice. A point worth highlighting here is the fact that they were willing to participate in the present study and opened themselves up to scrutiny for the benefit of others who will follow suit.

Student engagement and academic achievement, which tend to be somewhat reduced in an EMI environment (Airey 2004; Arkin and Osam 2015; Gürtler and Kronewald 2015), in our context seem to be equal or even better in EMP than in CMP, as observed by the authors and reported by the teachers. We advance several potential reasons for this. Firstly, smaller groups in EMIC seem to contribute to better classroom discipline and increased student engagement (cf. Johnson 2008; McAllister, Narcy-Combes and Starkey-Perret 2012). The smaller number of students makes...

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