Teaching of Academic Subjects in English and the Challenges Kuwaiti Students Face
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Parts of the thesis will be used for research purposes
This thesis explores students’ views concerning the current English as medium of instruction (EMI) policy at Kuwait’s two public higher education institutions, Kuwait University (KU) and the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET). In line with the exploratory nature of this study, an interpretivist and social constructivist epistemological stance was implemented to elicit and analyse students’ views and gain their insights on the current situation. The study employed a sequential mixed method design using quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (focus groups, semi-structured interviews and semi-structured observations) methods to present a holistic picture. The number of the participants were 12 for the focus groups, 100 for the questionnaire, 11 for the in-depth interviews and 10 teaching sessions were observed. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the quantitative strand data and thematic analysis was used for the qualitative data. The study revealed that although most participants preferred to learn through English, the current EMI policy raised many concerns. These related to students having to endure an ‘extra burden’ and the additional effort needed to study a subject being taught in a language that was not their mother tongue. The students expressed the view that this resulted in them being unable to gain a deep knowledge of the subject and not attain high grades which then affected their career prospects. These issues arose due to the students not being sufficiently competent in the use of English at the high level expected for degree level work. Students also expressed concerns relating to EMI policy effects on Arab identity and on the use of Arabic as a language of science and academia. Students would prefer a policy that promoted the use of both Arabic and English in their courses which would enable them to benefit from developing their understanding of both languages. The thesis concludes by presenting a recommendation to modify the medium of instruction policy such that it incorporates both English and Arabic. These recommendations have implications for policymakers, teachers and students.
PhD in Education