English as a medium
of instruction – a growing
global phenomenon: phase 1
Julie Dearden, Senior Research and Development Fellow,
English as Medium of Instruction (EMI),
Department of Education, University of Oxford
Going Global 2014 1
There is a fast-moving worldwide shift from
English being taught as a foreign language
(EFL) to English being the medium of
instruction (EMI) for academic subjects
such as science, mathematics, geography
and medicine. EMI is increasingly being
used in universities, secondary schools
and even primary schools. This phenomenon
has very important implications for the
education of young people and policy
decisions in non-anglophone countries.
Yet little empirical research has been
conducted into why and when EMI is
being introduced and how it is delivered.
What are the consequences of introducing
EMI on teaching, learning, assessing and
teacher professional development?
The British Council is working with Oxford
University Department of Education’s
(OUDE) research centre, EMI Oxford,
on a global scoping research project to
try to answer some of these questions.
The first phase of the project has been
to map the size and shape of EMI in the
world today. The full report of phase 1
will be available in November 2014.
This report briefly sets out the findings
of the research so far.
The 55 countries that participated in the study* are:
*Surveys were completed by British Council staff in the offices of the above countries and territories. In some cases, experts from those countries were also consulted. In addition the researchers conducted interviews with university teachers in Europe who were participating in three one-week Academic Teaching Excellence (ATE) pilot professional development courses organised by the British Council.
Research study conducted by Oxford University Department of Education and the British Council. September 2013 – March 2014. Full report available in November 2014
2 Going Global 2014
The main findings from phase 1 of the
research project are:
1. EMI is a growing global phenomenon
in both public and private education in all
stages of education – primary, secondary
2. There is more EMI in private education
than in public education at all stages.
Chart 1: Percentage of schools and universities
in the public and private sector where EMI is allowed.
Public primary schools
Public secondary schools
Private primary schools
Private secondary schools
Exact figures and countries are in the full report.
3. EMI is thought to be a passport
to a global world
5. Official policies and statements
on EMI exist
This is a view held by many teachers,
parents and students. Policy makers
consider EMI as a way to internationalise
their educational offer, creating
opportunities for students to join a global
academic and business community.
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