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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 forest ecologist (Tommaso Sitzia)

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TOMMASO SITZIA1

The forest ecologist

I began to teach in English during my third year of assistant professorship. My foreign students are expected to learn how to manage woodlands and how to conserve the plants and the animals that make up forest ecosystems.

For six years I have been visiting universities in Europe, Australia and Africa, ambitiously immersing myself in the everyday life, in an attempt to feel those “cultural thought patterns” Robert Kaplan (1966) puzzled over in his essay of that title. Gradually over this period, from country to country, and from class to class, I developed an idea of how I should teach in this vehicular language. For example, I have learnt how to lower language barriers in learning and teaching through information and communication technology. Yet, cultural barriers can be more profound than language barriers and straight technological bridges alone may not be enough to cross them.

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