A Systematic Review of English Medium Instruction (EMI) and Implications for the South Korean Higher Education Context

by Dylan Glyn Williams
Seoul National University, South Korea

This review focuses on the recent global trend of implementing English Medium Instruction (EMI) in non-English language higher education contexts. The aim is to arrive at a comprehensive view of published research focused on this global trend and to draw out the implications for international findings on EMI in the South Korean higher education context. A two-stage systematic literature review is used to explore the published EMI research. The first stage involves a quantitative content analysis, which establishes themes in the published research. The second stage involves an in-depth exploration of three specific areas, which are identified to be significant for successful EMI in the South Korean context (Byun, Chu, Kim, M., Park, Kim, S., & Jung, 2011). These include: a) the students’ and the lecturers’ language proficiencies, b) the varying demands of different academic situations, and c) EMI support. The review identifies how current policy makers’ handling of these areas has resulted in both challenges and opportunities for students and instructors engaged in EMI. However, the review indicates that current EMI implementation produces more challenges than opportunities to both parties and that this may be a by-product of a rapid implementation of the policy and a lack of adequate support for students’ and instructors’ linguistic academic needs. The conclusion discusses the wider implications that the EMI trend may have for students’ future English second language and academic content knowledge acquisition and offers guidelines which may strengthen future implementation of EMI in international higher education contexts.

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