Training and Assessing University Teachers for Teaching in English:
An International Survey of Universities’ Needs and Practices
University of León, Spain
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• What is English Medium
• Outline of the European Survey
• Presentation of Results
• Conclusions from survey
• Example of training and
accreditation at a Spanish
• What is EMI?
• The use of the English language to teach academic subjects in countries
where the first language (L1) of the majority of the population is not
English (Dearden, 2015)
• Rise in the numbers of courses completely taught in English in EHEA:
– 725 in 2001
– 2,389 in 2007
– 8,089 in 2014
Wächter, B. and Maiworm, F. 2008. “English-Taught Programmes in European
Higher Education. The state of play in 2014”.
• Why has English medium instruction (EMI) become so
important in European universities?
• To support the internationalization of universities
• To make study programmes more accessible to international
• To improve the foreign language skills of local students
• To enhance the international prestige and mobility of
academic staff (Coleman, 2006; Dearden, 2015)
• Challenges and questions for universities
• Is English a danger for local languages and cultures (Phillipson, 2015) ?
• Will EMI cause a loss of authentic cultural experiences for visiting
international students (Coleman, 2006)?
• Will local students struggle to follow subjects taught through a language
which is not their own?
• Are teachers capable of teaching content in the second language?
(Dearden, 2015; Halbach and Lázaro, 2015)
• A survey of training and accreditation for teachers of EMI:
• 1) to gain an overview of how European university teachers
are being trained in order to teach in English
• 2) to identify the requirements and standards teachers are
expected to meet in order to engage in EMI
• Disseminated in Spanish and English by:
– the Compostela Group of Universities
– the Santander Group of Universities and
– the Languages for Intercultural Communication and Mobility group
(LICOM) of the European Association of International Education (EAIE)
Who responded to the survey?
• Representatives of 70 European
– Spain (22 universities)
– 10 other European countries:
including Austria, Italy, Sweden,
Holland, Germany and France
• Different roles of respondents:
– Directors of Language Centers
– Heads of International offices
– Vice rectors of international affairs
– coordinators of university bilingual
Yes, a small number of
subjects in English
Yes, a large number of
subjects in English
Yes, some subjects in
English as well as
No, no subjects are
offered in English
Is your university currently offering subjects which are taught through English?
0.00% 5.00% 10.00% 15.00% 20.00% 25.00% 30.00% 35.00% 40.00%
is the issue of training teachers to teach
in English at your university?
('1'='not important at all, '5'='very important'.)
Issues and Concerns related to EMI
Issues of concern related to EMI Example comments from respondents
Level of Teachers’ competence in English (22 mentions) Teaching through English needs a high command of English -
there are teachers who need training to obtain this high
Level of Students’ competence in English (16 mentions) Probably the main issue is the level of English our students
bring to the University. This makes it harder for them to
follow classes in English.
Lack of training and support for teachers in EMI (10 mentions) The university administration officially supports
internationalization. But there is little financial or didactic
Threat to local language and culture (6 mentions) One of the key missions of the University consists in
preserving the local language; teaching through (obviously
imperfect) English might represent a threat to the richness of
the local culture.
Drop in standards of teaching when in English (6 mentions) Some argue that the quality of teaching through a language
other than their mother tongue will be severely affected.
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
General communicative skills
Methodology of Bilingual Education
Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency
What elements do your training courses include?
Minimum English level required at your university
to teach through English?
• Are teachers required to certify or accredit their methodological skills in EMI?
• Yes: 40% - No: 60%
Approach to certifying teachers to teach through English Example comments from respondents
Only Teachers’ linguistic competence is evaluated Se evalúa la capacidad lingüística, no la metodológica [Linguistic
competence is evaluated, but not methodological competence]
Participation in non-compulsory or non-evaluated
The teachers are offered a CLIL course, but it is not compulsory
Linguistic and teaching methodology are evaluated They have to undergo a practical and theoretical evaluation
assessmet so as to demostrate their ability and capacity to teach
the subjects of their fields
Evaluation of teachers’ previous experience and
Teachers who apply to take part in the plurilingual development
programme must submit detailed information about their
teaching and academic experience in a foreign language
Evaluation by students attending classes A través de una plataforma virtual en donde los profesores son
evaluados por los alumnos. [Teachers are evaluated by their
students in an online platform]
Conclusions from the survey (1)
• A need for greater attention to the whole issue of training teaching staff
• Many different approaches to EMI training: The majority of institutions
provide training in communicative skills, almost half of the programmes
omit bilingual teaching methodology completely.
– Teaching subjects through English is much more than simply translating
class content into a second language (Cots, 2013; Dafouz et al, 2007)
– Teachers should not be expected to work out the skills of teaching
through English intuitively.
– Dearden: “We may ask how students are supposed to understand lectures and
classes if the EMI teacher does not help with their knowledge of English by
paraphrasing, by teaching subject-specific vocabulary and technical terms”
Conclusions from the survey (2)
• English-level required:
• Remarkable the lack of consensus about the minimum level of English for
EMI: Minimum level ranges from B2 (43%) to C2 (13%)
• Need for common guidelines across the whole European Higher Education
• Halbach and Lázaro (2015) question whether a B2 level is sufficient to teach
class at university level
• Significant differences in accreditation processes:
• Many institutions do not have any formal accreditation process:
– Some rely on evidence of teachers’ communicative competence
– Others require that teaching and linguistic competence be
demonstrated through the completion of a formal evaluation process.
• Research needed in developing descriptors of what teaching in English
Training & Accreditation at the University of León
– 30 hour EMI course at the University
of León (methodology + language)
– Two-week intensive EMI course at
Dublin City University
– C1 level in English
– Completion of training courses
– Evaluated class
• Coleman, James A. 2006. “English-medium teaching in European Higher
Education.” Language Teaching 39 (1): 1–14.
• Dearden, J. 2015. “English as a medium of instruction – a growing global
phenomenon.” Available online here:
• Halbach, A. & Lázaro, A. 2015. “La acreditación del nivel de lengua inglesa en las
universidades españolas: Actualización 2015.” Available online here:
• Wächter, B. and Maiworm, F. 2008. “English-Taught Programmes in European
Higher Education. The state of play in 2014”. Bonn: Lemmens. Available online
Read more about the survey:
• Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
• See this presentation again: http://www.slideshare.net/dfmro
• Read and download the survey report: