Multilingual perspectives and practices of English-medium education students in Spain and China

Jennifer Rose Ament , MENGJIA ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


English medium education (EME) has been widely implemented at universities around the world. Each context reports its own unique benefits and challenges. There has been extensive work in the European context with the Asian context receiving much less attention until recently. One area of abundant research focuses on stakeholders’ use and perspectives towards English in EME settings. Findings from Europe show that northern European countries tend to report difficulties in understanding content and worries regarding the development of L1 academic literacy (Airey, 2012; Hellekjaer, 2010). Studies from central and southern European countries report that stakeholders hold positive beliefs that EME offers opportunities for language gains without losing on content (Aguilar & Rodriguez, 2012; Doiz, Lasagabaster, & Sierra, 2011). Then, with respect to the Asian context, the findings show that the stakeholders report difficulties attributed to low English proficiency (Hu & Lei, 2014). However, there is little research on the emerging research trends in the EME arena which inquire into the roles of multilingualism and global citizenship in EME apart from Baker and Hüttner (2017) who studied conceptualizations of language in EME in Austria the UK and Thailand. Thus, this comparative and international study attempts to build on this line of research and shed light on the multilingual practices and perspectives of EME students from Spain and China. Over 100 participants from the two contexts participated in the study, instruments were a multilingual questionnaire, attitudes and motivational questionnaire, and focus group interviews. Analysis of the questionnaire is quantitative while the focus group interviews were analyzed qualitatively using a pattern-based analytic method and thematic analysis procedure (Braun & Clarke, 2013). In addition to this, the ROAD-MAPPING framework (Smit & Dafouz, 2014) with a focus on RO (roles) was used to draw parallels with Baker and Hüttner (2007). The results are preliminary but do offer insight into how multilingualism is currently understood and practiced in the EME contexts of the two settings. They highlight the differences between the two contexts, and they pave the way for further research and discussion into how multilingualism might be integrated into English-medium education in order to provide more equitable, diverse and inclusive higher education for all.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Publication statusIn preparation - 2023


  • Multilingual identity, English-medium instruction


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