In Search of Methodology for English Medium Instruction



English Medium Instruction (EMI) — teaching/learning of content through English at a university — is currently gaining momentum worldwide, albeit it still lacks consensus regarding conceptualization and efficacious pedagogy and encounters a myriad of challenges at the implementation level. The latter prompt ed a host of researchers to voice concerns about its possible negative effects on content learning and overall educational quality. Current EMI conceptualization is primarily informed by the applied linguistics perspective. Drawing on the dialectical unity of language (word) and cognition (thought), the article presents recent and fruitful applications of Vygotsky’s ideas to foreign language teaching/learning praxis and suggests a symbiosis of two theoretical perspectives — the cultural historical theory and systemic functional linguistics — to inform teaching/learning in English-mediated contexts. The article shifts the focus from the most researched area in the EMI acronym, which is E (dealing with the English language issues), to I (Instruction) to suggest a potential conceptual and pedagogical solution to the EMI conundrum.

General Information

Keywords: cultural-historical theory, systemic functional linguistics (SFL), Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), English Medium Instruction (EMI).

Journal rubric: Problems of Cultural-Historical and Activity Psychology

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The author is grateful to Dr. Nikolai Veresov for his continuing support

For citation: Belskaya T.V. In Search of Methodology for English Medium Instruction. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 42–50. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170307.


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Information About the Authors

Tatyana V. Belskaya, Senior Instructor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, post-graduate student, Doctoral School of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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