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Co-Constructing Classroom Knowledge in an EMI Environment

Published on: January 4, 2022 | Views: 613

The third Teaching Seminar of 2021 fall term – “Co-Constructing Classroom Knowledge in an EMI Environment” – led by Dr. James McDougall was held on last Thursday, Dec 23rd in room 4-203.

Dr. McDougall first introduced what is EMI. EMI, English as a Medium of Instruction, refers to the use of the English language to teach academic subjects (other than English itself) in countries where the first language of the majority of the population is not English.

Dr. McDougall and his team began to study EMI pedagogy in SCUPI since the year 2018. They realized that the application of EMI is quite challenging. In order to fill in the language gap, instructors need to make some adjustments to the normal teaching approaches compared with teaching in students’ mother tongue. 

Dr. Robyn Najar introduced some recent studies on EMI pedagogy which focus on student-centered teaching strategies and active learning. 

How these strategies can be applied in SCUPI classroom and help address language issues was brought to discussion.

Dr. McDougall invited faculties to brainstorm the problems that their students might have in an EMI environment, and then share their strategies of coping with these problems in their teaching practice.

The problems include lack of scientific vocabularies, lack of interest in scientific problem, lack of confidence in English, being shy, and fear of asking questions. The strategies used by the instructors include repeating important questions, encouraging students to ask questions and tell them not to be afraid of making mistakes, and encourage teamwork. 

They all agreed that instructors can create a more comfortable EMI environment through cooperation and discussion between language instructors and subject instructors.

In the last stage of the seminar, Dr. McDougall invited faculties to visit the Writing Center for any issues regarding English language or academic writing. 

He pointed out that it takes time and inter-departmental work to apply the EMI strategy. Also, the Writing Center will offer more seminars and other resources on this topic in the future.

This teaching seminar was the third and the last one in this semester. In the previous two seminars, Dr. Kevin Quan shared “Think-Pair-Share” pedagogy, and Dr. Grace Chen introduced her teaching philosophy in the interactive class.

In the next semester, SCUPI will continue to hold teaching seminars to increase teaching abilities of SCUPI faculties and ultimately improve learning experience of students.

The mission of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (SCUPI) Writing Center is to assist undergraduate and graduate writers in the Sichuan University community to become more proficient communicators in English. We accomplish this mission by housing the English Writing Program and oversees undergraduate curriculum of course offerings and tutorials in writing modeled on the University of Pittsburgh Writing Program. In addition, the SCUPI Writing Center offers academic support through one-on-one or small group writing consultation sessions for all language-related issues.

Author | Joanna Peng

Editor丨Euphy He