English-medium instruction experiences: ‘Focus on form’ as a strategy to develop subject specific literacy
Keywords:English as a medium instruction, focus on form, pragmatic strategies, disciplinary language, language support
This paper examines English-medium instruction lectures at the University of Zaragoza (Spain) and problematises the extent to which English is only the ‘medium’ or the ‘lingua franca’ to obtain a teaching-learning purpose as regards content or whether these lectures are also sensitive to language learning. The analysis is concerned with metalinguistic comments made by EMI lecturers during their lessons in which they ‘focus on form’, i.e., shift from the topic they were discussing (course-related content) to English language forms (e.g., vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.). It analyses this as a pragmatic strategy among others employed by the lecturers to prevent and overcome difficulties of comprehension experienced by their students. The corpus for the study consists of 14 hours of audio-recorded lectures in two different disciplines (Business Administration and Nanoscience). The methodology relies on a discourse-pragmatic analysis of the transcribed lectures as well as on semi-structured interviews with the lecturers, which serve to understand their perception of their use of this and other pragmatic strategies. The results of the study contribute to providing evidence of the supportive attitude of EMI lecturers who focus on form to assist their students with disciplinary language but who consider themselves as non-language teachers.
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