Academic Language Tasks in Discipline-Specific Courses: Insights from three English-Medium Instruction Universities

Tuba Demirkol1, İlknur Bayram2, Özlem Canaran2
1Social Sciences University of Ankara, TURKEY
2TED University, TURKEY
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2021.94.5

Purpose: This study sought to investigate how undergraduate learners enrolled in EMI programs perceive the frequency and difficulty level of the academic language tasks in English in discipline-specific courses and whether there is a correlation between the perceived difficulty and frequency levels of these tasks. Research Methods: The research population consisted of undergraduate learners from three English-medium instruction (EMI) universities in Turkey. Data were collected in the 2018-2019 academic year from 513 participants through a 28-item Likert scale questionnaire, aiming to determine the frequency and difficulty level of academic language tasks learners engage in. For participant selection, convenience sampling was used. The participants were from three faculties: Business Administration, Education and Engineering. Data analysis was carried out quantitatively using SPSS. Findings: Findings showed that “listening to lectures and classmates” was the most frequently performed listening task, while “giving speeches, asking and answering questions in conferences” and “writing discipline-specific texts” were performed the least often. Regarding the difficulty level, the participants reported the highest difficulty with academic language tasks requiring deeper learning skills, such as interacting with the content of materials, synthesizing and making an interpretation in English.
Implications for Research and Practice: In the light of the findings obtained in this study, we recommend faculty members provide learners with more encounters with field-specific terminology and authentic situations besides encouraging them to move beyond surface learning in discipline-specific courses.
Keywords: academic language tasks, difficulty, frequency, English-medium instruction, undergraduate learners.