‘Surely they can't do as well’: a comparison of business students’ academic performance in English-medium and Spanish-as-first-languagemedium programmes


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Dono: Marcos Pedroso

Versão: 1.0

Última Atualiz.: 01-11-2018 14:54


For years, universities worldwide have offered English-medium degrees as a way to
attract international students and staff, enhance their institutional profile and promote
multilingualism. In Europe and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), Englishmedium
instruction (EMI) is more recent, but the dimension and speed of its implementation
has outpaced language policies, methodological considerations and empirical
research. In view of this, this paper focuses on an empirical study examining the effect
that the teaching of a Business Administration degree in English as a foreign language
may have on Spanish students’ academic performance (asmeasured through coursework
and final grades), when compared to their counterparts’ learning in Spanish. Students’
grades are analysed in three different disciplinary subjects and treated statistically.
Findings show that both cohorts obtain similar results, suggesting that the language of
instruction does not seem to compromise students’ learning of academic content. Differences,
however, are found regarding learners’ performance in the three disciplinary
subjects under scrutiny, with history yielding slightly higher results than accounting and
finance. This finding runs counter to the general belief that the more verbal subjects,
like history, would have a ‘limiting’ effect on EMI students’ final performance and,
moreover, raises questions concerning disciplinary differences and assessment.

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