English-medium instruction in Chinese higher education: A case study

Guangwei Hu, Jun Lei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

214 Citations (Scopus)


With the relentless internationalization and marketization of higher education in the past decades, English has been increasingly adopted as a medium of instruction at universities across the world. Recent research, however, has shown that despite its various optimistically envisioned goals, English-medium instruction (EMI) is not without problems in practice. This article reports a case study of an EMI Business Administration program for undergraduate students at a major university of finance and economy in mainland China. Informed by Spolsky's language policy framework, the study made a critical analysis of national/institutional policy statements and interviews with professors and students to uncover EMI-related language ideologies, language practices, and language management mechanisms. Findings evinced a complex interplay of these three constitutive components of language policy in the focal EMI program and revealed considerable misalignment between policy intentions and actual practices in the classroom. These findings raise concerns about the quality and consequences of EMI in Chinese higher education. The article concludes with recommendations for further research on EMI policies and practices in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-567
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • English-medium instruction
  • Higher education
  • Language ideology
  • Language management
  • Language practice
  • Medium of instruction policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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