Libor Štěpánek

Thursday 19 May 2022

EMI: A language teacher's leap into the unknown?

Internationalisation of academic institutions and the establishment of English as the lingua franca for the majority of academic disciplines in the last decades has changed the dynamics of university language support and made English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) a central and steadily growing global phenomenon.  Often, language teachers and teacher trainers are asked to develop and provide the EMI support.  It is essential to note, however, that successful members of today´s academic community are expected to not only demonstrate appropriate language skills that enable them to communicate competently in their disciplines, but also excel in a whole range of extra-linguistic skills as well. Are we, the EFL/ESP teachers, experts in those extra-linguistic skills? Are we experts in non-language-related didactics? Are we experts in communication? 

In this talk, I am going to address the frequently held assumption that we naturally are. Taking the example of the EMI support at the Masaryk University Language Centre, I will argue EFL/ESP teachers can become effective providers of an excellent EMI support to academics and university students. Yet, it does not come without significant challenges. I will offer a practice-oriented insight into the structure and content of EMI support that combines vital linguistic and extra-linguistic competencies.  First, I will explore a broad area of interlinguistic and intercultural skills. Then, I will analyse the appropriateness of individual teaching styles for specific situations that can enhance or indeed restrain the effectiveness of EMI. And finally, I will consider strategies that can help both teachers and learners deal with a variety of communicative challenges in multilingual settings. In brief, I intend to offer deeper understanding of what roles EFL/ESP teachers can play in EMI and what challenges need to be addressed in order to provide a high-quality EMI support.

 

Libor Štěpánek is Assistant Professor in English and Director of the Masaryk University Language Centre, Brno, Czech Republic. He is also an EAP/ESP teacher, researcher and teacher trainer in the areas of EMI and Creative Approach to Language Teaching (CALT). Libor focuses on experiential and authenticity-enhancing methods, encourages global perspectives in language teaching, complex professional development of language teachers and teacher autonomy, he eagerly and enthusiastically advocates research driven education. He is an author and co-author of articles, book chapters such as A creative approach to language teaching: a way to recognise, encourage and appreciate students´ contributions to language classes (British Council, 2015) and books such as Academic English (Grada, 2018) and Videoconferencing in University Language Education (Munipress, 2018). Libor is the President of the Czech university language centres´ CASALC association and an active member of the Coordinating Committee of the European Confederation of University Language Centres (CERCLES).