What drives success in English medium taught courses? The interplay between language proficiency, academic skills, and motivation.

Heath Rose, Samantha Curle, Ikuya Aizawa, Gene Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the relationship between course performance, English
language proficiency, motivation, and academic language skills in an English
medium instruction (EMI) university context. It analyses test and questionnaire
data from 146 students from an EMI business program at a Japanese university,
and follow-up interviews with seven students. Proficiency test and subject exam
scores revealed that knowledge of English language and academic English skill
were statistically significant predictors of success in EMI, suggesting that lower
proficiency students require more targeted language support in order to increase
their likelihood of success. A motivation measure did not correlate with higher
grades, contradicting research in language learning contexts. Interview data
uncovered the multi-faceted nature of ‘success in EMI’ suggesting that students
see success as a combination of final grades, lecture comprehension, English
language proficiency gains, and long-term career advancement.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCSHE 1590690
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019


  • Japan
  • English Medium Instruction
  • proficiency
  • motivation
  • English for specific purposes


No photo of Samantha Curle

Samantha Curle

Person: Research & Teaching

Cite this