An Exploratory Investigation into Content Teacher Views on English as a Medium of Instruction Policy Enactment in the UAE Federal Tertiary Sector
King, Michael John
Date: 9 December 2014
University of Exeter
EdD in TESOL
This exploratory study into content teacher views on English as the medium of instruction (EMI) in federal tertiary settings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was conducted to add to the emerging number of EMI studies in the country and the Arabian Gulf. While other UAE studies have canvassed views from two or more stakeholders, this ...
This exploratory study into content teacher views on English as the medium of instruction (EMI) in federal tertiary settings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was conducted to add to the emerging number of EMI studies in the country and the Arabian Gulf. While other UAE studies have canvassed views from two or more stakeholders, this study looked to focus only on teachers. Working within an interpretive paradigm, rich data were sought from a purposive sample of 45 teachers for an open questionnaire and 9 teachers for semi-structured interviews; the interview themes emanating from questionnaire data analysis. The research framework was built on the researcher’s own experiences in the research context, the assumptions that emerged from those experiences and a review of pertinent themes from the literature, which tended to be grounded in critical theory. These concepts were the macro-policy areas of education and language policy, the synthesised analysis of language policy in education and subsequently a review of themes emerging from EMI studies globally, regionally and in the UAE, which led to a focus on the problem areas of language proficiency and appropriate language pedagogy for this specific research context. Findings suggest that although there is some support for EMI among the sample there is also recognition of attendant problems with the policy caused in the main by students’ insufficient language ability for Bachelor’s study in English and question marks over the need to aspire to native speaker proficiency in a society where various Englishes as a lingua franca are used between citizens who do not use English as their mother tongue. These causes lead students and teachers to enact policy to create learning opportunities. Enactments include skills avoidance, simplifying materials, reducing content and code-switching into Arabic. The absence of Arabic in the higher education curriculum is also questioned, given evidence that it is relevant for students’ future employment; be it in the public or private sector. Recommendations include that English remain an integral part of the curriculum given its relevance for later employment but that the choice of EMI as the model for learning be reviewed to see if other approaches may be more appropriate. It is also recommended that Arabic be included in the curriculum in some form given its importance for students’ careers. Finally, if EMI remains the chosen linguistic approach, teachers are recommended to continue enacting as part of their professional practice to ensure that their students get some benefit from their relatively challenging study environment.
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