Regional English Support Centre, University of Kelaniya, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
EMI means English as a medium of instruction. People who involve in English Language teaching have a different idea in this concept. There are many researches done regarding this issue. The implication of the decision to teach through English in higher education varies greatly depending on the location and reasons for this decision, and this can put different pressure on teachers and students from a variety of first language backgrounds who now have to succeed using English. This article tries to find out the challenges in implementing EMI inside classrooms through sharing ideas of EMI that existed all around the world.
The application of EMI has many challenges due to the lack of ability or motivation among students, and sometimes staff, to use English. In such cases, questions have to be asked about how appropriate it is to use English when another language is a more convenient teaching medium, and when there is little motivation among staff and students to use English. This can be commonly seen as a live experience in Sri Lankan classrooms.
Those who involve in English Language teaching do not believe in EMI because of the myth existed in their language teaching-learning process. That is “Learning the English language through L1 is easy for students”. To motivate engagement with English in universities, some institutions begin by placing English as the medium of assessment, hoping the pressure of having to write assignments and deliver projects in English will force students and staff to use English in their practices.
But the above process brings difficulties in the Language teaching process and the students find themselves unsuccessful in acquiring the English Language. Many occupational areas require both written and spoken work from students. These expectations become myth by avoiding EMI.
Thus, it is vital to think about possible teaching methodology with the use of EMI to enable the students to find themselves successful in acquiring the English Language. This success is up to a teacher. The teacher should reflect on his or her lesson after finishing it. Especially what went well and what did not. What was the effectiveness of the use of EMI? How many students responded to the lesson? Why did some of them or most of them not respond? This point of view is the platform for a teacher to build up strong confidence for the use of EMI. The teacher may think that the instructions should be shortened, instruction should associate with gestures, instructions should be given slowly, or teach some classroom instructions for some period of time with picture clues.
It is true that the students who learn the English Language in some English medium institutions show the highest proficiency in using the English Language. This shows the importance of practicing EMI. All these things come true when a teacher realizes the truth apart from the myth that is applied in ideal classrooms.