Challenges in implementing English-medium instruction: Perspectives of Humanities and Social Sciences professors teaching engineering students

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English for Specific Purposes, ISSN: 0889-4906, Vol: 51, Page: 111-123

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Kim, Jeong-Yeon; Kim, Eun Gyong; Kweon, Soo-Ok
Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; English-medium instruction; Academic disciplines; Teaching Humanities and Social Sciences; Local language; Non-native English-speaking professors
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Science and Engineering universities have been at the forefront of a recent drive to cultivate the global competitiveness of Korean higher education through English-medium instruction (EMI). This study investigates how professors teaching Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) in this local context envision an EMI policy and the roles of the local language by means of questionnaires and interviews. Furthermore, this study identifies the types of support needed for improving EMI in a non-English context. The quantitative data were collected from more than 80 percent of the HSS faculty members of three major Science and Engineering universities in Korea, followed by subsequent qualitative interviews with nine of the respondents. The results show that while generally supporting the internationalization of higher education, the participants perceived their lack of autonomy from selection to implementation of the policy as a serious problem. Interestingly, the local language was perceived as crucial to practicing the HSS disciplines and to conducting their professional roles. These findings illuminate contingencies of an EMI policy bound by a local context which include a shared understanding of the influences of an instructional language on teaching HSS subjects.