English as a Medium of Instruction in Higher Education Institutions in Norway: A Critical Exploratory Study of Lecturers’ Perspectives and Practices
Griffiths, Elizabeth Joyce
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
This critical exploratory study investigates the perceptions and practices of Norwegian lecturers on the implementation of a policy of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) at their Higher Education Institution (HEI). It focuses on their attitudes towards English usage, how they have been prepared and cope in the classroom, and looks at their language and pedagogic competences. The socio-cultural context of using English inside and outside the auditorium is explored and leads to questions of Anglo/American influence and Norwegian domain loss. The study is informed by critical Applied Linguistics (CALx), linguistic imperialism and Bourdieu’s theories on social capital and power. It examines teaching through critical pedagogy and Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of learning to aid understanding of classroom engagement and communication, and successful learning. This study has been informed by the critical approach to challenge normative assumptions of the use of EMI. Qualitative methods were used to collect data; twenty Norwegian teaching academics were interviewed, of whom five were observed whilst teaching. Careful coding and analysis of the data revealed surprising attitudes and perceptions varying from enthusiasm to anxiety for EMI. The participants generally accepted the top-down decision making by the administration on the increase of EMI and English usage. The influences of globalisation and commodification at HEIs combined with the rapid increase in English usage seem to have led to increased power of the management and bureaucratization. Some participants, mostly from the humanities, felt they lacked voice and agency in the implementation and their preparation for EMI, whilst some from the sciences actively embraced English and some wanted English as the working language in HEIs. There was a general feeling that more time and language resources were needed for professional development to cope with the change to EMI. All the participants worked hard to succeed in EMI; they were aiming at NS language competencies and wanted to be better at grammar, pronunciation and terminology, but seemed unaware of the pragmatic level of communication required for teaching and did not recognise the necessity of pedagogic training for EMI. There was a lack of dialogic teaching making co-constructed learning challenging and transformative pedagogy more difficult to achieve. They adapted to the multi-cultural/lingual classroom in a pragmatic manner, but were not given spaces for counter-pedagogies, critical pedagogy and the ideals of the transformative intellectual. The research reveals five areas of concern: a) inadequate English language at the pragmatic level for the demands of EMI, b) inadequate pedagogic skills for the multi-lingual and cultural classroom, c) concern over local and international students’ level of English, d) standardized, Anglo/American teaching materials leading to a lack of diversity and critical approaches, and e) the threat to academic Norwegian from international academics not learning Norwegian, the publishing reward system at Norwegian HEIs and the perceived status of English, and the resultant decline in dissemination to the general public. However juxtaposed to the above points, most participants experienced the international classroom positively and were well-received by and pleased to be in their academic Community of Practice resulting generally in an ambivalent attitude to EMI.
EdD in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages