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An Exploration of the Academic Community’s Perceptions of English-Medium Instruction: A Mixed-Methods Approach (pp. 31-53)

Laia Lacasa-Cervelló

Universitat de Lleida


Despite the increasing implementation of English-medium instruction (EMI) courses in higher education (HE), insufficient heed has been paid to the perspectives of those most directly impacted by EMI (Dearden and Macaro 2016), and especially in a multilingual context like Catalonia, where a minority language must coexist with Spanish and English. Given the generally low level of English among the Spanish population (Education First 2021) this study aimed to examine the extent to which the academic body of the Universitat de Lleida (UdL), regards EMI as a propitious setting for linguistic development. To this end, a mixed-methods approach (Creswell 2015) is taken. Firstly, attitudes towards the Catalan B2 requirement and EMI were elicited through a questionnaire implemented with 287 undergraduates, which facilitated descriptive quantitative data. Secondly, experiences with and reflections upon English-taught courses were documented through three semi-structured interviews with two undergraduates and one faculty member at UdL. The ‘small stories’ (Bamberg and Georgakopoulou 2008) emerged were later analysed through Positioning Analysis (Bamberg 1997) and Membership Categorisation Analysis (Sacks 1972). 

Overall, the findings indicate that EMI is equally accepted as an agent of linguistic development and a hurdle, which highlights, as in Cots (2013), how the UdL community–and by extension, Spanish universities–may still be unprepared to deal with EMI. It has also been observed that the introduction of English into Catalan HE is not envisaged as a threat to the local culture (Sabaté-Dalmau 2016), and that English being poorly taught at pre-university levels gives rise to an iterative discourse of victimhood among students (Diert-Boté and Martin-Rubió 2018). Despite the limitations, the findings may result in a more nuanced understanding of the impacts of EMI in multilingual environments.

Keywords: English-medium instruction; Catalan higher education; attitudes; foreign language learning; victimhood narrative


Laia Lacasa-Cervelló is a 4th-year student taking a Double Bachelor’s Degree at the Universitat de Lleida (UdL): Degree in Applied Languages and Translation and Degree in English Studies. She has found interest in the field of English-medium instruction in higher education and would therefore like to pursue her doctoral studies in the future. This paper was her final assignment for the English as a Global Language 2021-2022 UdL course, taught by Professor Enric Llurda. 

e-mail addresslaia.lacasacervello@gmail.com


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