EMI and how to teach heterogeneous groups?

In the 4. session of TACE we talked about EMI and what should we take into account, when we teach our subjects in English. To whom and why we should teach in English? I think that these are very important questions. We also discussed about the pyramid model, which included students, teachers, institutions, policy, language, culture and pedagogy. Of course, all the models are often oversimplified, but our task was to improve this model. Our team had an idea about an inner circle, where students, teachers, institutions and policy were represented. Around the circle we had five squares including resources, language, culture, content and pedagogy, and in one square there were differences. Differences can be individual or institutional. The issues in the inner circle interact with previous things and vice versa.

One observation in our common discussion was, that there are some students whose English language skills can be excellent. However, their subject knowledge or skills are not necessarily good. We can also have students, who don´t speak English so well, but they understand better written and spoken language. In addition to this we have so many other things to consider while teaching. What kind of interaction is suitable between teachers and students? What does it mean, when students have different types of educational cultural backgrounds? One example came up to my mind today, when we discussed about this subject. We had a course, where one teacher trainee student taught physical education in a school. Some pupils of the school class were used to very authoritarian educational system. Teaching methods of our student were not familiar to these pupils. For example, a group work was new, and some pupils thought that teacher is lazy, when (s)he doesn´t teach “properly” in authoritarian way. This example reminds me, that we can´t keep anything as “a norm” as teachers.

Mariana Siljamäki

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