Investigating the Use of English as a Medium of Instruction in Oman’s Higher Education Institutions: Preliminary Findings

Christopher Denman & Dr. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi, Oman, ID CLEaR2016-344;        English is the dominant lingua franca of the international community with more than a quarter of the world’s population being able to communicate in the language. As a result, there is a focus among many of the world’s tertiary institutions on courses where English is the medium of instruction (EMI). In Oman, EMI is used in almost all higher education institutions. This paper presents preliminary results of a nation-wide study exploring student and teacher perspectives of tertiary level EMI in Oman to gain a clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities associated with its implementation. Data was collected through a 31-item Likert response scale questionnaires and semi-structured interviews from participants in Omani tertiary-level institutions. Preliminary results suggest that participants identify a number of advantages with EMI, such as preparing them for the workforce and allowing greater access to information and to form more globalized perspectives, although significant challenges, such as content understanding and possible incompatibility with Omani traditions and beliefs, are also present. Implications for EMI in Omani society and around the world are discussed.

Keywords: EMI, EFL/ESL, tertiary education, Oman