English, as a lingua franca in the world, for years has been the medium of information exchange in academia. In many non-English-speaking countries, English-medium textbooks (EMT) for content courses are adopted in many academic disciplines at universities. It is believed that the use of EMT would provide the students with the latest information in the discipline, and thus bridge students’ learning in local context and the academic development in the world. Besides, students are expected to improve their English reading ability in the use of EMT. Different from English-medium instruction (EMI) or English for specific purposes (ESP) courses, professors in the typical EMT courses use students’ native language (Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai in this study) as the medium of instruction in class. In so doing, are the above-mentioned goals achieved? The abstractness and complexity of the subject matter knowledge itself has posed difficulty for the comprehension of concepts involved. The addition of a foreign language definitely makes the task even more challenging. How do the students approach such academic texts in English? What difficulties do they experience in the process of reading? What strategies do they take to tackle the comprehension problems with the academic content? Does EMT as a whole facilitate or debilitate students’ acquisition of content knowledge? To address such issues surrounding the use of EMT, a questionnaire survey will be conducted in four non-English-speaking countries: Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand, where EMT is a common practice at the university level. A total of 600 students from humanities & social science (economics, business management, and psychology) and natural science and engineering (biology, chemistry, and computer science) in each country will be recruited. Japan and Korea are the focus of the first year, and Vietnam and Thailand the second year. The questionnaire includes close-ended and open-ended questions addressing the above-mentioned issues. This study will delve into the following questions: (1) How do students perceive English-medium textbooks in terms of its rationale and outcomes (i.e., acquisition of subject-matter knowledge and improvement in English reading)? (2) How do students approach the academic texts in EMT? (3) What problems do students experience in reading? What are their coping strategies? (4) Does EMT provide multiple perspectives or alternative interpretations to lead students to think critically? Does English proficiency pose an obstacle for students to challenge the texts in EMT? (5) Do junior high school English textbooks prepare students well enough for reading EMT? Data from the survey were compared with similar data collected in Taiwan by the researcher in the previous project. Based on the findings, implications were drawn regarding the selection of EMT, how EMT might be better used, how students might improve their reading comprehension and acquisition of content knowledge, and how students might be assessed in such classes. Suggestions for further research on EMT were also made.
|Effective start/end date||2017/08/01 → 2021/07/31|
- English as the lingua franca, ELF
- English-medium instruction, EMI
- English-medium textbook, EMT
- disciplines in university
- reading difficulty
- reading strategy vocabulary
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