Emirati Students' experiences of English as a medium of instruction
Troudi, S; Jendli, A
Peter Lang Publishers
The English language has become the medium ofinstruction (EMI) in higher educational institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The main purpose of this project is to explore and investigate what Emirati university students think of EMI. In particular we investigated the effects EMI has on their educational achievement and ...
The English language has become the medium ofinstruction (EMI) in higher educational institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The main purpose of this project is to explore and investigate what Emirati university students think of EMI. In particular we investigated the effects EMI has on their educational achievement and learning experiences. The study also revealed students' views about the status of Arabic as a language ofinstruction at the tertiary level and the possibility of a dual language education. An exploratory research strategy with qualitative data obtained through semi-structured interviews revealed that students' experiences with EMI at the university level were shaped by a number ofeducational and sociocultural factors. The nature of the primary and secondary school experience and the students' overall competence in English has to a large extent formed their views of EM!. Students who attended private English-medium schools were much more prepared to face the academic demands of EMI than their colleagues who learned English as a foreign language and a subject among others in the curriculum of the government primary and secondary schools. Family background and parental attitudes towards English have also played a role in students' acceptance ofEMI and in many cases a tendency to prefer English to Arabic. However, the data did reveal that Emirati students were also interested in Arabic as a medium ofinstruction for a number ofuniversity subjects. Thinking ofemployability and market forces, the students had a realistic if not a pragmatic attitude towards Arabic. They also, as expected, associated Arabic with discourses ofidentity, linguistic, and cultural heritage. One major implication ofthis study is the inadequacy of the old binary division between Arabic and English as languages ofinstruction. The study challenges established discourses that have been reinforcing English as a language ofscience and academia while relegating Arabic to a language of heritage and religion. Arabic and English can mutually co-exist in a model ofdual language instruction for university students.
College of Social Sciences and International Studies
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