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Learning to Listen in EMI: The Effects of Strategy Instruction on Strategic Behaviour and Learner Uptake

Project Scheme:
Early Career Scheme
Project Year:
Project Leader:
Dr FUNG, King Tat Daniel
(Department of English Language Education)
Learning to Listen in EMI: The Effects of Strategy Instruction on Strategic Behaviour and Learner Uptake

Recent years have seen a global spread of English Medium Instruction (EMI) programmes where content subjects (e.g. Science, Geography) are taught through second language (L2) English. 

The underlying assumption and perceived benefits of EMI are that students can learn both subject content knowledge and L2 simultaneously. However, empirical research has revealed otherwise – that this dual goal is not always achieved. One potential solution is to improve learning in the EMI classroom. Unfortunately, little research has used a learner-oriented angle to examine this issue. Even less research has questioned how learning can be improved through helping learners become better listeners in comprehending the EMI teacher input. In reality, the strategies involved in listening to the teacher is an under-researched area even in the L2 English classroom. 


This study attempts to fill these research gaps and evaluate the effectiveness of listening strategy instruction (SI) in improving EMI learning. Two schools which offer EMI programmes in Science will be invited to participate in this study. In each school, 3 classes (n=30 each) will be recruited, totalling 180 students. 


Following a development stage with needs analysis to uncover which strategies students are not familiar with and need more instruction on, in each school, class 1 and 2 take turns to receive two types of treatment (an SI programme and a video-viewing session to control for the additional exposure to Science content) in reverse order, while class 3 serves as the control group with no treatment. The SI programme includes training and practice in using listening strategies to comprehend the teacher input. It also supports students through the provision of pre-lesson briefings and a strategy list to refer to when they attend a unit of EMI lessons (around 10 sessions) taught by their teacher in their usual learning schedule. Post-lesson interviews and diary writing will be used to reveal how learners develop their strategic repertoire. Finally, quizzes, a strategy and learner characteristics questionnaire, vocabulary test, and school examination results in Science before and after the study will be used to assess if (1) the listening SI is effective in enhancing strategic behaviour and EMI learning, and (2) learners with different language proficiencies benefit from SI differently. 


This study will evaluate the effectiveness of listening strategy instruction, which yields important pedagogical implications for EMI programmes. The findings of the study will inform how L2 English learners can learn to become better listeners in the EMI classroom.