This poster presentation reports on the development of a massive open online course (MOOC) that offers training in English Medium Instruction (EMI). EMI refers to ‘The use of the English language to teach academic subjects (other than English itself) in countries or jurisdictions where the first language of the majority of the population is not English’ (Macaro, 2018, p.1). It is a growing global trend, influencing a large number of higher education institutions around the world. While the number of EMI courses at universities in non-Anglophone countries such as Japan is increasing at an unprecedented rate, this rapid increase is outpacing the actual implementation of teacher-training modules addressing EMI (Kuwamura, 2018). Designing EMI training is a challenging task for universities in Japan because English neither is the first language of this country nor is it deeply embedded in the local culture. Given these difficulties, the University of Tokyo developed an online EMI training course in close collaboration with the University of Edinburgh. The new course was added to the UTokyo English Academia (EA), the university’s MOOC series on English for academic purposes.
EA was built on an Open edX platform and has been chosen as the EMI instruction vehicle for two reasons. First, the paucity of EMI training is a problem faced by numerous higher education institutions in Japan, including the University of Tokyo. The new course was added to EA, and over 20,000 learners have already registered (Shimoyamada, Nakazawa and Fujimoto, 2019). This achieves a wider impact than would be possible offline or via small private online courses. Second, English language is the global lingua franca; therefore, EMI is a subject that can and should be discussed by its stakeholders across the world (Murata, 2019). In this poster session, we present the trial feedback from learners on the new MOOC to highlight how researchers and practitioners involved in the global EMI phenomenon share issues that they experience in their local contexts.
We argue that EMI has a novelty value as a learning subject that has scarcely been taught by MOOCs to date (except Baird, Borthwick and Page, 2017). Our new MOOC promotes public awareness of EMI training, which still has a low profile despite EMI’s rapidly increasing importance in higher education across the world. The MOOC also addresses educational inequalities that comprise one of the generally expected benefits of MOOCs (Ichou, 2018). A major challenge facing EMI is unequal opportunities for professional training, peer-networking and critical reflection (Baird, Borthwick and Page, ibid). Our new MOOC demonstrates a potential to redress this imbalance by enabling learners to overcome social, economic and cultural barriers to the study of EMI by participating in online learning communities and sharing knowledge online.
Baird, R., Borthwick, K., and Page, M. (2017). Transforming learning, conceptualisation and practices through a MOOC on English as a Medium of Instruction for Academics. In K. Borthwick, L. Bradley and S. Thouësny (Eds), CALL in a climate of change: adapting to turbulent global conditions – short papers from EUROCALL 2017 (pp. 19-23). Research-publishing.net. https://doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2017.eurocall2017.682
Ichou, R. P. (2018). Can MOOCs reduce global inequality in education?. Australasian Marketing Journal, 26(2), 116-120.
Kuwamura, A. (2018). The future of English-Medium Instruction in Japan. In A. Bradford. and H. Brown (Eds), English-Medium Instruction in Japanese Higher Education (pp. 265-282). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Macaro, E. (2018). English Medium Instruction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Murata, K. (2019). Exploring EMI in higher education from an ELF perspective. In K. Murata, (Ed), English-Medium Instruction from an English as a Lingua Franca Perspective (pp. 1-11). London: Routledge.
Shimoyamada, S., Nakazawa, A. and Fujimoto, T. (2019). Blending online and offline learning: A study on the development of an English as a medium of instruction workshop. Proceedings of 2019 8th International Conference on Educational and Information Technology (pp. 141-146). Association for Computing Machinery. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3318405