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English as a Medium of Instruction in East Asia’s higher education sector: A critical realist Cultural Political Economy analysis of underlying logics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-391
Number of pages17
JournalComparative Education
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jul 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Apr 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2016
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2016


As discourses of globalisation and the knowledge-based economy become increasingly influential in both policy-making and in public debates about education, employability and national competitiveness – the choice of language in the classroom takes on a strategic importance. The paper employs a critical realist Cultural Political Economy lens to explore the use of EMI at tertiary level in the East Asian context. The discussion builds on existing theoretical framings and on empirical research into the language-globalisation nexus, as well as on language-in-education policy and practice. By doing so, the paper seeks to develop a theoretical account of historically and spatially situated socio-political and socio-economic processes that have favoured the use of EMI in the region. The focus here is on the dialectical relationship between hegemonic imaginaries (semiosis) and material practices in relation to the value attached to particular linguistic resources, where value is understood in both economic and symbolic terms, and how this is often tied to neoliberalism and discourses of competiveness.

Additional information

Special issue: English as a Medium of Instruction in Postcolonial contexts: issues of quality, equity and social justice

    Structured keywords

  • WUNeducation

    Research areas

  • English-medium instruction, cultural political economy, East Asia, Globalisation, Critical realism

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