Students’ Experiences of EMI at the Postgraduate Level: Challenges and Sustainable Support for Success

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Abstract

As the world opens up after the COVID-19 pandemic, Mainland Chinese students are again exploring overseas destinations (including Hong Kong) for postgraduate studies. However, once they are overseas, they may experience English Medium Instruction (EMI) for the first time. While it is known that students can often struggle in an EMI environment, the kinds of challenges faced by postgraduate students, and the support they receive, or need are not fully understood. By adopting a two-stage qualitative-dominant sequential mixed-method approach, this study explores the experiences and perceptions of 80 full-time postgraduate students from mainland China studying in a one-year full-time Master of Education programme at a Hong Kong university after their first semester. Data was collected through an online survey and in-depth interviews. The analysis of data offers a holistic understanding of the students' challenges, needs and struggles, as well as their beliefs, attitude, and motivation in such context. Several sustainable support strategies are proposed to assist such students in adjusting and succeeding in the EMI context at the postgraduate level. Drawing on a unique local perspective of Hong Kong, the study will shed light on EMI contexts globally, providing practical implications for future EMI teachers and policymakers in course design and classroom instruction in the COVID-19 endemic world.

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