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ERIC Number: ED586989
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Sep
Pages: 162
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 148
Multilingual Classrooms: Opportunities and Challenges for English Medium Instruction in Low and Middle Income Contexts
Erling, Elizabeth J.; Adinolfi, Lina; Hultgren, Anna Kristina
Education Development Trust
The starting point for this report was to consider the complex field of English Medium Instruction (EMI) policies in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Its purpose is to provide insight and support to those responsible for setting policy or enacting it in complex language environments around the world. This research study set out to do two things: (1) Look at the global literature and draw on the lessons from existing research; and (2) Focus on illustrating the operational enactment and levels of understanding of EMI polices in schools in two primary school contexts--Ghana and Bihar, India. These very different contexts provide valuable lessons that will help policy makers, educators, teacher trainers and schools to navigate the complexities of multilingual EMI environments. Since the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals, there has been increasing attention paid to the quality of teaching and learning in schools, with the result being that Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals ensures inclusive and equitable "quality" education, and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all. It is increasingly recognised that medium of instruction is a key aspect of improving the quality of education. Findings from this study suggest that the language-in-education policy (LEP) and its enactment can present a range of challenges to realising improvement in educational quality, and this might be contributing to the rise of low-cost private schools outside the government sector. Findings are divided into four main themes: (1) Pedagogy--the language of instruction can constitute a barrier to good pedagogic practice; (2) Teacher language--competence in language of instruction is vital, as is valuing of a flexible approach to language use to enable learning; (3) Student language--the language of instruction can limit opportunities for communication; and (4) Multilingual strategies to support EMI--opportunities and challenges. The LEPs in both Ghana and India are commendable for their intention to implement UNESCO's 1953 recommendation that 'every effort should be made to provide education in the mother tongue,' while also aiming to ensure universal access to English. This study confirms other research investigating the implementation of the use of local languages in education, finding that this is fraught with difficulties. However, the use of English as medium of instruction also poses significant challenges. Recommendations are provided at the end of the report. [The authors of this report were supported by: Kimberly Safford, Fritz Makafui Tugli, Snehal Shah, Sarah Jane Mukherjee, Subhi Ashour, Mark Mukorera, and Alison Buckler.]
Education Development Trust. Highbridge House, 16-18 Duke Street, Reading Berkshire, England RG1 4RU, United Kingdom. Tel: +44-1189-021-000; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: British Council (United Kingdom); Open University (United Kingdom); Education Development Trust (United Kingdom)
Identifiers - Location: Ghana; India