Over the past decades, an increasing number of institutions in the world has been driven by the need to become more international and attractive in the global scenario. Among the different strategies adopted to respond to the call for the internationalization of higher education, several institutions in non-English speaking countries have begun to offer English-medium instruction (EMI) degree programmes, in which discipline-specific content is delivered through the medium of English (Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra, 2011; Wächter and Maiworm, 2014; Valcke, Murphy and Costa, 2017; Macaro, 2018; Pecorari and Malmström, 2018). Although English language outcomes are neither mentioned in the definitions of EMI nor in the courses’ syllabi, English proficiency improvement is one of the most common motivating factors to opt for English-mediated education (Costa and Mariotti, 2017; Galloway and Ruegg, 2020). Furthermore, given the amount of language input received by the students in class, some degree of incidental language learning is expected (Aguilar, 2017). However, little research has focused on the students’ English proficiency development in EMI classes. This study aims to address this gap of knowledge by focusing on the students’ language experience in an EMI degree programme in Medicine and Surgery in Italy. It explores the students’ motivations and expectations of the programme and the language gains obtained after two years of English-medium instruction. Therefore, it observes the role played by English in this EMI setting and to what extent English proficiency improvement takes place incidentally, while students are engaged in subject-oriented disciplines. Since this is a longitudinal study, the data collection was carried out in two academic years and involved one-hundred medical students. Data were collected by means of three questionnaires and two language tests. While questionnaires were used primarily to explore the students’ attitudes and opinions on their experience in an English-mediated educational setting, language tests assessed the students’ language gains in their receptive skills. The findings suggest that English plays a key role in EMI and that students have high expectations from their lecturers’ English competence and their own language proficiency. In addition, the results of the language tests revealed a statistically significant improvement in the students’ reading skills, which according to them took place incidentally. Drawing on these results, this research indicates different actions to be put in place if English proficiency improvement is expected in such programmes, including language goals and more effective language support.

The language factor in English-medium instruction (EMI). The students’ language experience in an EMI class in Medicine and Surgery

CICILLINI, STEFANIA
2022

Abstract

Over the past decades, an increasing number of institutions in the world has been driven by the need to become more international and attractive in the global scenario. Among the different strategies adopted to respond to the call for the internationalization of higher education, several institutions in non-English speaking countries have begun to offer English-medium instruction (EMI) degree programmes, in which discipline-specific content is delivered through the medium of English (Doiz, Lasagabaster and Sierra, 2011; Wächter and Maiworm, 2014; Valcke, Murphy and Costa, 2017; Macaro, 2018; Pecorari and Malmström, 2018). Although English language outcomes are neither mentioned in the definitions of EMI nor in the courses’ syllabi, English proficiency improvement is one of the most common motivating factors to opt for English-mediated education (Costa and Mariotti, 2017; Galloway and Ruegg, 2020). Furthermore, given the amount of language input received by the students in class, some degree of incidental language learning is expected (Aguilar, 2017). However, little research has focused on the students’ English proficiency development in EMI classes. This study aims to address this gap of knowledge by focusing on the students’ language experience in an EMI degree programme in Medicine and Surgery in Italy. It explores the students’ motivations and expectations of the programme and the language gains obtained after two years of English-medium instruction. Therefore, it observes the role played by English in this EMI setting and to what extent English proficiency improvement takes place incidentally, while students are engaged in subject-oriented disciplines. Since this is a longitudinal study, the data collection was carried out in two academic years and involved one-hundred medical students. Data were collected by means of three questionnaires and two language tests. While questionnaires were used primarily to explore the students’ attitudes and opinions on their experience in an English-mediated educational setting, language tests assessed the students’ language gains in their receptive skills. The findings suggest that English plays a key role in EMI and that students have high expectations from their lecturers’ English competence and their own language proficiency. In addition, the results of the language tests revealed a statistically significant improvement in the students’ reading skills, which according to them took place incidentally. Drawing on these results, this research indicates different actions to be put in place if English proficiency improvement is expected in such programmes, including language goals and more effective language support.
English-medium instruction (EMI); English proficiency; language gains; incidental learning.
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Descrizione: PhD thesis Stefania Cicillini
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1080588
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