EMI Lecturers in international universities: is a native/non-native English-speaking background relevant?

Ofra Inbar-Lourie*, Smadar Donitsa-Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Though the relevance of language teachers’ native/non-native (N/NN) background has been researched extensively, little is known about its applicability to cases where the lecturer uses English as the medium of instruction (EMI). This study's purpose, which was conducted in Israeli higher education institutions, was to elicit students’ perceptions on this topic and to explore their expectations regarding desired EMI lecturers’ qualities. The participants were 465 students (349 Israeli Jews, 116 Israeli Arabs) in different academic contexts, with one third studying in EMI courses. We used open-ended and closed questionnaire items to collect data and conducted both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The findings revealed that the preferred EMI lecturer is not necessarily a native English speaker; instead, we found that desired EMI lecturers should be highly proficient in English, subject matter experts, able to simulate an international learning experience, display effective teaching pedagogies in both content and second language, and be familiar with the students’ local language and culture. Students’ portrayal of the diverse desired attributes of the EMI lecturer extends far beyond the bounds of nativeness. When amalgamated, these competencies form a new construct that is particular to the EMI context, hence corroborating current, critical views of the N/NN distinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-313
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2020


  • EMI
  • international universities
  • native/non-native EMI lecturers
  • native/non-native speaker


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