22 SES 09 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
In European higher education the growing number of English-Medium courses, i.e. non-language subjects taught through English, has led to discussion about, and research on, whether the use of a foreign language for instruction impacts on teaching and learning. The present quantitative study investigates this issue by comparing student lecture comprehension in English and the first language (L1) at three Norwegian and two German institutions of higher education, with a sample comprising 391 Norwegian and 47 German student respondents. It compares self-assessment scores for lecture comprehension in English and the L1. Analysis shows that while the difference between English and L1 scores was not substantial, a considerable number of students still had difficulties understanding the English-Medium lectures. Furthermore, the German students had markedly lower comprehension scores for English. Among the main problems were difficulties distinguishing the meaning of words, unfamiliar vocabulary, and difficulties taking notes while listening to lectures. The study argues the need to improve the quality of lecturing as well as the lecturers' and students’ English proficiency.
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