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An interesting, sceptical article about EMI

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I have just come across the following article:

http://digital.elgazette.com/august-september-2017/emi-special-staff-get-really-worried-and-fear-being-mocked-by-their-students.html

This seems to resonate with my experience of working wth teachers from China.  As the article says, the lecturers are often brilliant in their fields but feel insecure about their English.  I think and hope the course helped the teachers build their confidence and realise that they can communicate in English but, of course, they still have room for development and they will still be anxious.

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Course on EMI

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As this is a relatively quiet part of the year with my OU teaching, I am working for the University of Reading with some university lecturers from China who are intending to teach through the medium of English from next year.  Their home institution specialises in architecture and most teach courses in related areas like engineering, urban planning and materials science.

The first day was spent finding out more about their needs and current levels of English.  Unsurprisingly, their levels of English (and confidence) vary quite markedly.  However, when I said I realised that many of them might feel they are stronger at reading and writing, their relief was palpable.  I also tried to reassure the group that many of them will feel much more confident at the end of the course.

I am looking forward to finding out more about the group and how we can help them to feel confident about what will be quite a daunting change to their practices.

Permalink 10 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 3 Sep 2017, 11:19)
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MOOC on EMI 2

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 23 Jul 2017, 14:20

I have taken several MOOCs as a student as well as being a moderator on one.  The most recent has been the MOOC on EMI.  I quite enjoyed this but there were also some aspects that I feel less keen on.

The course was relatively small and it was possible to engage with other students and many of these were engaged and had different and interesting perspectives. We were able to make use of "collective intelligence".

It was just moderated by the two lead educators.  They were very responsive and I was surprised that they were able to reply to so many comments.  I assume that they must have been given time to do this.  There are other courses where the moderators are much less visible.

I do not really like the "mark as complete" button at the end of each activity.  This seems to imply the learning has finished but in fact, it is often important to go back to the activity (eg to respond to comments on what I had posted).

I also find the quiz items either trivial or the answers could be unreliable - I suppose this is inevitable with "objective testing" and this is the only way to cope with the size of the course.

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MOOC on EMI

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I have started studying a MOOC on English as a Medium of Instruction for Academics (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/emi-academics/1/todo/8341)  The first week has been interesting in seeing the variety of concerns that practitioners have.

It is also good to see that the course makes heavy use of input from Kristina Hultgren, who works for the OU.  This shows how this university is doing important work in the field of Applied Linguistics.


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A critical article on English in Dutch universties

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I am interested in the use of English as a medium of instruction and the following link is to an article criticising the widespread use of English in Dutch universities (estimated at 60%)

https://qz.com/992742/dutch-universities-are-accused-of-abandoning-their-own-language-to-attract-lucrative-foreign-students/

Permalink 6 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 16 Jun 2017, 14:16)
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Courses in English at Belgian universities

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Here is a report about courses  taught in English in Belgium.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/10/06/two-universities-belgium-join-forces-english-language-bachelors-program


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English in Dutch universities

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I came across this article in the THES on the use of English in Dutch universities.

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/dutch-universities-defend-growth-english-courses

I was very struck by figure of 60 per cent of courses being taught in English.

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Yet more on English as a medium of instruction course

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The final part of the course involved some micro teaching and a discussion/reflection on the experience.

The students did well and I learned a great deal about their subjects from this, which suggests their communication and teaching skills were effective.  However, one of the students told me how worried she was that some of her students would judge her English skills unfavourably compared to the English teachers in her university.  It seems that perhaps she is too perfectionist and her teaching of the content in an effective way should be the priority (but perhaps it is easier for me to say this than it is for her to feel this).

Thinking about these teachers, they are under a great deal of pressure.  Like most other lecturers, they are expected to be research active and publish, teach their content effectively and do this in a second language.  They will need great qualities and strengths but I think and hope they have those qualities.

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More on English as a medium of instruction

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 29 Aug 2016, 12:43

In the previous posting, I referred to teaching a group of teachers who are preparing to teach through English.  In today's class, there was an interesting incident that made me think about prioritisiation in terms of pronunciation and lexis.  One student used the word still but it sounded to me very similar to steel.  After some clarification, we established the meaning intended but we discussed whether it might often be best for him to avoid the word still and use synonyms like static or stationary.

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Summer work

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 29 Aug 2016, 12:43

For the past couple of summers, I have been working at the University of Reading on courses for English for Academic Purposes lecturers from universities in China and I have taught one group of these teachers this year. 

However, there is a new course that is about to start its second week.  This is for teachers of other subjects at Chinese universities who are interested in teaching through English (English as a Medium of Instruction).  This is an interesting new angle on my work as the focus is on the methodology of teaching through language, which resonates with the ideas of writers like Halliday (2004[1980]).  So, there is a need to focus on meaning and intelligibility to an even greater extent than usual and there is perhaps less of a focus on accuracy,


Halliday, M.A.K. (2004 [1980]) ‘Three aspects of children’s language development: learning language, learning through language, learning about language’, in Halliday, M.A.K. (ed.) The Language of Early Childhood: Vol. 4 The Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday, London, Continuum.

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