Together with four European partner universities, Maastricht University has been involved since 2017 in a project that is comparing English medium instruction (EMI) lecturers’ English proficiencies and needs for support across different countries in Europe. The project is focused on identifying the commonalities and differences of EMI practices and needs across the partner universities, and using this information to design effective EMI training and appropriate standardization of a locally developed oral English certification test.
As part of this project, one of the outputs is to align the University of Copenhagen’s locally-developed scale for teachers’ oral English proficiency (TOEPAS) with the Common European Framework (CEFR) scale which is widely used throughout Europe as a means of testing English language proficiency. One of the main areas of concern for the TAEC project’s scientific committee was that more and more European universities are stating a CEFR C1 is the minimum language level required for EMI teachers in Higher Education, UM included. Our reason for concern was the lack of research determining that this was the desired level, especially as a C1 applies to General English rather than English for Specific Purposes (ESP) or English for Academic Purposes (EAP), and specification of what language skill or skills the C1 should apply to (oral, written, listening or reading) is rarely specified. In the development of TOEPAS, CIP have a well-researched and clearly determined a cut-scale. As part of the TOEPAS to CEFR alignment, the TAEC team found that the TOEPAS cut-scale aligned to an oral proficiency of B2+/C1- on the CEFR scale as opposed to a C1. These findings are presented in the technical report associated with this output (cip.ku.dk/english/documents/Alignment_of_TOEPAS_with_the_CEFR.pdf) and were announced at our EMI Practices in Europe conference on April 4th in Copenhagen.
Erasmus+ TAEC project EMI Practices in Europe Conference, 4-5 April, University of Copenhagen
The Erasmus+ Transnational Alignment of English Competences for University Lecturers (TAEC) project, of which UM is one of five partner universities, hosted a conference focused on EMI Practices in Europe on 4-5 April this year.
The program included plenary presentations by Prof. Ute Smit (U. of Vienna, Austria) and Prof. David Lasagabaster (U. of the Basque Country, Spain), as well as a wide range of presentations and posters focused on themes related to different aspects of EMI in Europe, such as EMI practices and policies, EMI challenges, lecturer/student needs, expectations, and attitudes, lecturer development, assessment, and program design. Denise McAllister and Sarah Crielesi of the Language Centre and UM’s TAEC team presented on EMI practices in Maastricht University, with particular mention of the introduction of the new language policy.
The program also included a TAEC symposium, where the project members presented and discussed the project purpose and three main outputs, namely: 1) a research report on a large-scale, comparative mixed-method study examining the EMI contexts applying a transnational EMI Framework; 2) a technical report presenting the procedure, the analysis, and the results from linking a locally-developed scale for oral English proficiency (TOEPAS) to the CEFR through a standard-setting procedure recommended by the Council of Europe (2009); and 3) an EMI Handbook developed for both self-study and in-service training sessions that outlines the fundamental areas of an EMI teacher training and support curriculum. The academic program was both stimulating and fascinating, and overall was very well received by the participants.
TAEC Project partners
In the TAEC project, Maastricht University is collaborating with six European universities, all of which have experience with EMI at different implementation stages. In addition to Maastricht University, the four project partners are University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Turin (Italy), University of Rijeka (Croatia), and University of Lleida (Spain). The project also has two associate partners: Compluthense University (Spain) and Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands).
Denise McAllister, TAEC Executive Committee,
Course Coordinator English for Academic Purposes and Intercultural Communication,
Language Centre, Maastricht University.