Language policy and planning for English-medium instruction in higher education

Amy Wanyu OU, Francis M. HULT, Ming Yue Michelle GU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This article presents English-medium instruction (EMI) in higher education (HE) from a language policy and planning (LPP) perspective. Based on a review of EMI policy research in diverse higher education contexts, we address several key contemporary policy tensions in EMI such as English native-speakerism, English monolingualism, and language education with attention to corpus, status and acquisition planning as well as the role of individual policy actors. In light of this review, we argue for an orientation to policymaking for EMI-HE institutions that acknowledges the value of individuals as policy arbiters and aligns institutional goals with “on the ground” needs and practices. We also point to areas of future research that would benefit all EMI stakeholders, in particular critical engagement with the nature of language competence in EMI settings and the enhanced development of evidence-based EMI learning outcomes. Finally, we propose an ecological framework for EMI-HE policy development that could be employed as a heuristic to guide universities in designing concrete EMI policies for their local contexts. As an extension, we also offer an inventory of reflective questions to guide key university stakeholders in effectively engaging in EMI policy processes. Copyright © 2022 John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-28
JournalJournal of English-Medium Instruction
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


Ou, A. W., Hult, F. M., & Gu, M. M. (2022). Language policy and planning for English-medium instruction in higher education. Journal of English-Medium Instruction, 1(1), 7-28. doi: 10.1075/jemi.21021.ou


  • English-medium instruction (EMI)
  • Language policy
  • Language planning
  • Higher education


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