Does English proficiency develop as a result of English-Medium Instruction?
Other conference contribution, 2022

While development of English language proficiency is rarely an articulated learning objective in English Medium Instruction (EMI) it is nevertheless an often-hoped-for outcome (Pecorari & Malmström, 2018). Macaro et al. (2018) lamented the dearth of research investigating the impact from EMI on English language learning by means of non-subjective measures; their review identified only a small number of studies which had used objective testing. The findings from this research are largely inconclusive, with several studies reporting gains in some areas of general or academic English but not others. For example, research by Yuksel et al. (2021) reported significant gains in general English language proficiency as a result of four years of EMI study. By contrast, a study by Hu et al. (2014) generated results which contradict claims of a positive development of English proficiency. Clearly, in view of the underlying premise of much EMI—that EMI should enhance students’ English proficiency—more objectively based research is needed which explores the effect EMI has on various dimensions of students’ English proficiency. The present study addressed this need by investigating students’ development of receptive academic vocabulary knowledge. A cross-sectional sample of first-and second-year students enrolled at MSc programs in Sweden were tested using the Academic Vocabulary Test (Pecorari et al., 2019). The results are discussed in terms of implications for the development of basic academic literacy, and for incidental language learning in EMI.

English proficiency

English Medium Instruction



Academic vocabulary


Hans Malmström

Chalmers, Communication and Learning in Science, Language and Communication

Diane Pecorari

7th International Conference on Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education
Maastricht, Netherlands,

Does English-medium instruction develop professional English literacy? A longitudinal investigation of master's programmes

Swedish Research Council (VR) (2013-2373), 2014-01-01 -- 2017-12-31.

Subject Categories


General Language Studies and Linguistics

Specific Languages

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work

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