English as an Instructional Medium in Korean Higher Education: Focusing on the Perspectives of Professors

  • Received : 20120700
  • Published : 2012.09.30


The study explores the way professors working in a private university in Korea perceive the recent English-medium instruction (EMI) frenzy in Korean higher education (HE) and the way they respond to its manifestation at their institution. Working within a qualitative research paradigm (Merriam, 2009), I gathered data primarily via one-time semi-structured interviews with ten participants who have offered or are offering EMI at the time of data collection and used a qualitative data analysis method. The findings illustrate that the professors view external factors residing outside individual universities, such as the college rankings and the university evaluation parameters, as the principal drive behind the current EMI boom in Korean tertiary education. Acknowledging the importance of strengthening the international competitive edge of Korean HE in the global era, the professors perceive the EMI policy positively expecting it to be beneficial for both students and institutions. They, however, problematize the blind acceptance of EMI policy and externally forced EMI expansion movement in Korean HE, which they believe will lower the standard of the academic experience of students. Experiencing first-hand the inadequate manifestation of the EMI policy at their university, the professors claim that a systematic long-term implementation plan and context-suitable approaches should be taken at both the national and institutional level for successful future EMI implementation and expansion efforts.