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IATEFL 2024 Annual Conference - Ben's Thoughts on the "Forum on EMI in EAP Settings: Perspectives and Practices

I attended this forum for the primary reason that I know little about EMI (English as a Medium of Instruction) and wanted to know more. Happily, I was not disappointed and came away with my knowledge much expanded and a greater sense of clarity about the meaning, purpose, reactions to and uses of EMI.

The forum featured three great speakers who know their subject extremely well:

1. Frances Amrani who focused on essential definitions and concepts:

2. Dr Michelle Hunter who reported on the results of her academic research into the use of


3. Dr Evangelia Xirofotou who desscribed how EMI is used at her university in Greece:

I took away a lot from this forum in terms of my knowledge:

  • EMI is about teaching technical language and subject concepts to others in English; while it may help develop competences in English, this is not the primary focus (unlike CLIL).

  • EMI is not only about translating lectures (indeed, EMI is used in lectures but also seminars, MOOCs and other settings) and high proficiency in a language does not necessarily equate to the capability to use EMI.

  • EMI involves asking questions as well as telling.

  • EMI may when research has not been conducted in a particular language and can be for status and marketing purposes as well as in internationalisation efforts; it may also serve as a lingua franca and facilitate international collaboration.

  • Everyone needs EMI competences in an academic environment, including native speakers of a language (for example, how to write up research).

  • Emi creates a discourse community based on special language of a field and provides access to this community in an academic environment.

  • EMI can be implemented through familiarisation with jargon, development of understanding of context, remembering content and subject objectives, training instructors how to not only use language but also do things like ask questions, provide feedback and so on, and standardisation across departments with working structures to support students.

This was a well-structured forum with great speakers and a coherent and cohesive structure. There was a largely seemless flow from the initial discussions about definitions and purpose with Frances to reflections on research and data with Michelle and finally what served as a case study of the application of EMI in the setting of a Greek University with Evangelia.

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