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Success factors for English as a second language university students' attainment in academic English language proficiency: exploring the roles of secondary school medium-of-instruction, motivation and language learning strategies

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pDisplaying a strong competence in English as a second language (L2) is a major advantage for university graduates in personal development and career advancement. There are limited studies that have explored how the implementation of English-Medium-Instruction (EMI) in non-Anglophone universities can affect students’ academic English proficiency. This mixed-method study explores how both the learners’ variables (motivation and L2 learning strategies) and the medium-of-instruction policy implemented at secondary and university settings can contribute to students’ success in academic English learning at a bilingual university in Hong Kong. The findings of a large-scale questionnaire reveal that the effect of medium-of-instruction in students’ secondary school education is not a significant predictor of students’ academic English language proficiency at university. The findings suggest that university students who previously attended secondary schools which adopt medium-of-instruction other than English tend not to be disadvantaged in improving their academic English proficiency. Institutional factor (i.e. provision of EMI lectures at university) and learners’ variables, including students’ L2 strategy use and motivation, are statistically significant predictors of the student’s English language proficiency. The implications for higher education policy in Hong Kong and worldwide will be discussed.</jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Professor Cecilia Chun and the Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR) for their support. Thanks must be given to the anonymous reviewers who took time to give feedback on our work.

Publication status: Published

Funder: Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


academic English language proficiency, higher education, Hong Kong, medium-of-instruction, success factors

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Applied Linguistics Review

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Walter de Gruyter GmbH