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The importance of the mother tongue in EMI

The importance of the mother tongue in EMI

01 February 2019

We recently published new position paper The role of the first language in English Medium Instruction, which highlights important issues and future directions for teaching English in countries where it is not the first language.

English Medium Instruction (EMI) is becoming increasingly important as schools worldwide prepare students for study at English-language universities and careers in the business, technology, and science fields. Our paper focuses on the positive impact of learning English in conjunction with the learner’s native language, and is the result of advice and collaboration with EMI experts around the world.

The paper includes evidence-based accounts that demonstrate how the most effective EMI programmes enable multilingual learners to maintain and cultivate their own language alongside English. One such example is Escola Barão, an independent school in Brazil. Since 2017, the school has implemented a bilingual programme for 4-14 year olds with our support, with subjects taught in both English and Portuguese. It has delivered extremely positive results with teachers reporting that bilingual students have a far greater multicultural knowledge and an ability to understand cultural concepts more quickly.

The paper follows our 2017 offering Inclusive Practices in English Language Teaching, and supports our goal to empower the global English language teaching community to teach and learn in the most successful way.

Read more about our ELT position papers