Good Enough to Teach? A Study of EMI Lecturers’ Language Skills and Metadiscourse

Inger Margrethe Mees, Louise Denver, Christian Jensen, Charlotte Werther

Abstract


In a study conducted at the Copenhagen Business School, 1,794 students completed questionnaires on lectures given by 31 non-native English-speaking lecturers in 12 EMI programmes. They were asked to rate the lecture, the lecturer and the lecturer’s language. Statistical analyses revealed a correlation between the students’ perceptions of the lecturers’ general lecturing competence (defined as knowledge of subject and teaching skills) and their perceptions of their English language proficiency (Jensen et al. 2013). In return for their assistance, each lecturer received a feedback sheet on how to improve their communicative effectiveness. The feedback was given by experienced tutors of English who had extensive experience of teaching and assessing English in an everyday ELF context. This paper sets out to investigate what sort of recommendations were provided, concentrating on the 24 lecturers whose L1 was Danish. An examination of the tutors’ comments showed that they could be divided into two main categories: formal language skills and pragmatic or metadiscursive features. The observations on language features are presented using a slightly adapted version of Lavelle’s (2008) “good-enough-to-teach-model”, whilst the comments on metadiscourse could be divided into four categories: sequential structure, hierarchical structure, connectives, and “fillers”. Although some ELF research has suggested that effectiveness in ELF settings depends more on pragmatic ability than on language proficiency (Björkman 2010; Jenkins et al. 2011: 301), the analyses of the tutors’ comments to the 24 lecturers in the present study show that both aspects should be attributed importance.


Keywords


English-medium instruction; metadiscourse; discourse structure; connectives; formal language skills; pronunciation; English as a lingua franca; university lecturers

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