HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 14 no. 1 (2005)

Using English as the Medium of Instruction: The Expectations and Difficulties faced by Tertiary Student in a Teacher Education Award in Hong Kong

Shane N. Phillipson

Discipline: Education



Recent research has concluded that tertiary students believed that the seven Hong Kong universities were not providing sufficient support when implementing the Hong Kong governments language policy on using English as the medium of instruction (EMI), and that they believed that their English ability was actually declining. This research was based on a cross-section of students across all year levels and awards, and may miss some important differences between types of award. The aim of this study was to understand the difficulties facing Cantonese speaking tertiary students who were enrolled in a teacher education award when using EM I. These students responded to a questionnaire at the beginning and end of a 10-weekcourseof study of a subject within the BEd (Hons.) and PGDE awards at The Hong Kong Institute of Education. The responses indicated that self-assessments of English language ability generally increased over the period, with the exception of listening skills. Students also identified thinking outcomes and affective outcomes when using English as the greatest problem areas, with the skills in writing, speaking and listening as important in overcoming these problems, as determined by factor analytic techniques. Finally, students' responses revealed that their attitudes toward learning English were dependent on their desire to improve their teaching effectiveness. The results demonstrated that students in teaching awards in Hong Kong are not typical of other tertiary students, and strategies designed to overcome problem areas when using the EMI must be specific to the award.