Keynote speaker :

Keynote address on EMI and ESP: A successful marriage?

Activity: Talk/lecture or presentationTalk/lecture

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English medium instruction (EMI) is growing rapidly around the world, and the complex set of interlocking drivers for this trend can be divided into two broad categories. First, there is a belief that placing second-language users of English in an instructional setting where English is used as the medium of instruction will create incidental learning outcomes; that is, tackling teaching and learning activities in English will lead to improved English proficiency. In this view, the English which is learned is likely to be academic in nature (e.g., mastery of academic vocabulary or the ability to write typical academic genres) and/or related to the subject of instruction (e.g., technical terminology). In other words, EMI is intended to provide many of the same outcomes as instruction in English for academic purposes (EAP) or English for specific purposes (ESP).

An alternative set of motivating factors behind EMI are those related to internationalisation. Universities wish to recruit international students and staff, encourage outward mobility for students, and otherwise advance their internationalisation objectives, and a lingua franca is needed to facilitate this. From this perspective, English is almost coincidental: any lingua franca which allowed researchers and teachers and students to communicate would suffice, but English happens to be the undisputed academic lingua franca.

In practice these two drivers for EMI--the need for a lingua franca and the belief that EMI promotes incidental learning of English--frequently co-occur. However, they differ sharply in terms of their assumptions about students' starting points, the explicit and tacit expectations which participants have of them, and their implications for how EMI should be implemented, In many settings, too little attention has been given to the tensions between these two models.
The aim of this talk is to examine these tensions between EMI as ESP/EAP and EMI as a neutral vehicle for pedagogical communication. It will begin with a brief review of the different forms in which EMI is implemented around the world, before describing the ramifications of the different expectations of EMI. It will conclude by describing some of the things which students, teachers and educational administrators can do to ensure the best outcomes for EMI.

Research Unit / Event Journal/Book Series

External organisation (Academic)

NameNational Cheng Kung University