I’ve just returned from a very interesting conference for Erasmus coordinators and representatives of international offices at universities across Europe. The conference is called ERACON and is organised by the European Association of Erasmus Coordinators. It was a pleasure to be involved again in this conference, and to see first-hand the excellent work being done by universities in the process of international cooperation and academic exchange, both for university students and for staff. It is in the area of staff mobility for teaching purposes and for training that I see the greatest potential for deeper internationalisation of higher education.
Universities clearly recognise the need to attract internationally mobile students by providing quality services and excellence in tuition and academic programmes. International students are often attracted by courses mediated in the English language (EMI). The extrinsic value of having EMI at a university are obvious: higher international competence, greater ability to communicate academically and professionally using English as a lingua franca, and greater employability and economic potential for students. HEI teachers recognise all of this, too, of course; yet they are often reluctant to conduct their courses using EMI because they realise that for such courses to be successful the intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation to participate meaningfully must be ensured.
It was with this in mind that I chose as the topic of my presentation for ERACON, the theme of Addressing Reluctance among University Professors to Use English Mediated Instruction. The talk highlights the imperative need for higher education institutions whose first language is not English to facilitate training and support for those professors who take on the challenge of engaging both home and incoming students in their courses by using EMI. This training, together with an integrated approach to medium of instruction policy at macro (education authority), meso (institution) and micro (classroom) level form the crucial links required for English Mediated Instruction to work to the benefit both of the institution and its learners.