English-medium instruction at university in China – student perceptions

Kathy O’Sullivan

President, Global Partnerships at United Business Institutes

E-mail: kathyos@hotmail.com

Abstract: English-medium instruction is expanding rapidly in China, especially in the higher education milieu. The reality of English language proficiency in the classroom is often at odds with expectations, particularly when many students are the product of rote learning in high school. This paper aims to illustrate the challenges of a mainland Chinese university to answer the needs of a knowledge-based society driven by globalisation. The central aim of this study is to critically explore the perspectives of students participating in programmes where English is the medium of instruction. Opportunities and challenges are identified, with recommendations for future practice being made. Amongst the main challenges identified are a gap between what is said and what is actually happening in the classroom and the

increasing presence of foreign ‘experts’ in education in the country. Yet, students are also presented with an opportunity to take their place as global citizens in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: China, universities, English as a medium of instruction.