Linguistic demands and language assistance in EMI courses. What is the stance of Italian and Spanish undergraduates?


This paper delves into students’ view on English-medium instruction (EMI) in two South European countries, Italy and Spain. In particular, two topics which have been less frequently investigated are addressed: the linguistic demands of students and the need students may feel for some form of language assistance. To this end, a paper-based questionnaire was given to 290 undergraduate students, 145 of whom being Italian (from the Department of Engineering) and 145 Spanish (from the Departments of Business Administration, Engineering, Economics, History, Economics and Law, Marketing, and Public Administration). The questionnaire contained close-ended and open-ended questions regarding their pre-university EMI experiences, whether content teachers should be assisted by language experts, and what aspect of EMI teaching should be paid heed to. The results revealed some agreement between the two nationality groups, with some interesting exceptions regarding the language skills students viewed as more difficult, and as a result, the areas in which they feel the need for language support. In general, both groups favoured language assistance, although they considered that this responsibility does not fall within the remit of content lecturers. The data also showed differences linked to the specific disciplines, thereby confirming the impact of students’ specialization on the EMI experience.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v33p69

Keywords: English-medium instruction (EMI); language support; content teachers; students' stance; university.


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