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Volume 9 Number 4, Winter 2012, Pages 1-189   

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English-medium Instruction in the University Context of Korea: Tradeoff between Teaching Outcomes and Media-initiated University Ranking

    Dong Wan Cho

English-medium instruction (EMI) has become popular in universities in Korea. The trend, spurred by the media-initiated university rankings and the globalization policy of Korean universities, has been found to bring about several adverse effects. The purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of the implementation of EMI at a science and engineering university in Korea and the effects of EMI on content teaching and learning outcomes, and to suggest ways to maximize the advantages of the policy while decreasing its disadvantages. Questionnaires were administered to 41 faculty members, 439 undergraduate students and 403 graduate students of a university that has enforced the EMI policy since 2010. To examine in-depth the opinion and perception of the policy, structured interviews were also conducted with seven professors, ten undergraduate students and eight graduate students. The questionnaire and interview results show that the EMI policy implemented in an EFL context proved to be ineffective and unsuitable in delivering course content due to the limited English proficiency of professors and students. Professors and students also demonstrate strong opposition to the policy because it was imposed unilaterally by the university without their support and consensus. Suggestions from the perspectives of ESL/EFL practitioners are provided to minimize the side effects of the EMI policy in an EFL context.

Keywords: English-medium instruction (EMI), EFL context, Teaching and learning outcomes, Higher education in Korea