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Sharing Perspectives on English-Medium Instruction

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Edited By Katherine Ackerley, Marta Guarda and Francesca Helm

English is increasingly used as a medium of instruction in European higher education not only in northern countries, but also in the European ‘south’. This volume is fruit of a project which was carried out in a public university based in the north-east of Italy with the aim of delivering professional development for university lecturers engaged in EMI. It begins with an overview of the European context, the Italian context, and some of the arguments against the indiscriminate spread of English as a medium of instruction in higher education. The volume then focuses on the microcontext of the university, giving voice to the various stakeholders in EMI. These include researchers, lecturers, administrative staff, those involved in professional development and students. The central part of the volume presents the views and experiences of twelve EMI lecturers from a range of academic disciplines. In sharing these perspectives on EMI, the volume hopes to stimulate critical dialogue and research on the many issues involved in this aspect of internationalisation in higher education institutions.

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The social psychologists (Marta Codato & Ines Testoni)

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MARTA CODATO & INES TESTONI1

The social psychologists

At the Department of Sciences of History, Geography and Antiquity at the University of Padova there is a Master’s Degree in Local Development, and an equivalent course held in English called Sustainable Territorial Development (STEDE). Students enrolled in this course come from different areas of the world, such as Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States, through the Erasmus Mundus Program. All the courses involved are taught in English. In 2010 we ran a course How to Enhance Group Interaction, which was attended by 30 students of Local Development and STEDE.

In the case of STEDE and Local Development, EMI is the obvious choice as STEDE students come from different countries around the world and English is the language of globalisation: in recent decades, it has become the lingua franca. English language and non-verbal communication allowed STEDE and Local Development students to understand each other in spite of the different mother tongues. During the course, we noticed how the need to speak in English made Italian students feel less embarrassed about their imperfect knowledge of English and more willing to risk using new terms and expressions. They seemed particularly stimulated to improve their English pronunciation and writing in order to be understood by classmates and to obtain a positive grade from the professors.

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