English for Specific Purposes, English Proficiency, and Academic Achievement in English-Medium Instruction: A Mediation Analysis


The implementation of English-Medium Instruction (EMI) at higher education institutions pose challenges for the students in achieving content mastery and improving English proficiency as the two most expected outcomes. English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is designed to provide English and learning support for EMI students in achieving the EMI “dual benefits.” This study aimed to examine the relationship between ESP, English proficiency, and academic achievement of EMI students at a university in Indonesia and the mediating effect of English proficiency on the relationship between ESP and academic achievement. This quantitative study employed empirical institutional data about ESP course grades, English proficiency scores, and the overall grade point average of 246 EMI students at a faculty of social science at a state university in Indonesia. A regression analysis using a process by Hayes was performed as the analytical tool. It was found that ESP positively predicted both EMI students’ academic achievement and English proficiency. English proficiency was shown to partially mediate the relationship between ESP and the academic achievement of the EMI students. Both ESP and English proficiency is crucial in enhancing the EMI students’ disciplinary knowledge understanding. Recommendations for more collaborations and language and learningsupports and further studies are provided.

Keywords: English for Specific Purposes, English proficiency, academic achievement, English-Medium Instruction, higher education

[1] Airey J, Lauridsen KM, Räsänen A, Salö L, Schwach V. The expansion of Englishmedium instruction in the Nordic countries: can top-down university language policies encourage bottom-up disciplinary literacy goals? High Educ. 2017;73(4):561– 76.

[2] Aizawa I, Rose H. An analysis of Japan’s English as medium of instruction initiatives within higher education: the gap between meso-level and micro-level practice. High Educ. 2019;77(6):1125–42.

[3] Arnó-Macià E, Aguilar-Pérez M, Tatzl D. Engineering students’ perceptions of the role of ESP courses in internationalized universities. Engl Specif Purposes. 2020;58(1):58–74.

[4] Baker C. Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters; 2001.

[5] Banegas DL. Learning subject-specific content through ESP in a geography teaching program: an action research story in Argentina. Engl Specif Purposes. 2018;50(1):1– 13.

[6] Baron RM, Kenny DA. The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1986 Dec;51(6):1173–82.

[7] Bastürkmen H. Developing courses in English for specific purposes. London: Palgrave Macmillan; 2010. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230290518.

[8] Byun K, Chu H, Kim M, Park I, Kim S, Jung J. English-medium teaching in Korean higher education: policy debates and reality. High Educ. 2011;62(4):431–49.

[9] Chang YY. English-medium instruction for subject courses in tertiary education: reactions from Taiwanese undergraduate students. Taiwan International ESP Journal. 2010;2(1):53–82.

[10] Chen PC. Effectively implementing a collaborative task-based syllabus (CTBA) in EFL large-sized business English classes. English for Specific Purposes World. ESP-world. 2005;4(10). Available from http://esp-world.info/Articles_10/issue_10.htm

[11] Coleman JA. English-medium teaching in European higher education. Lang Teach. 2006;39(1):1–14.

[12] Costa F, Mastellotto L. The role of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in supporting the linguistic dimension in English-medium Instruction (EMI). CLIL Journal of Innovation and Research in Plurilingual and Pluricultural Education. 2022;5(2):37– 52.

[13] Crystal D. English as a global language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2003. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486999.

[14] Danaye TM, Haghighi S. Evaluation of ESP textbooks: evidence from ESP textbook of computer engineering major. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning. 2014;3(2):55–68.

[15] Dafouz E, Smit U. Road-mapping English Medium Instruction in the internationalised university. London: Palgrave Macmillan; 2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030- 23463-8.

[16] Dearden J. English as a medium of instruction-a growing global phenomena. Available from https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/english-a-medium-instruction— a-growing-global-phenomenon

[17] Dewi A. English as a medium of instruction in Indonesian higher education: A study of lecturers’ perspectives. In: Fenton-Smith B, Humphreys P, Wilkinshaw I, editors. English medium instruction in higher education in Asia Pacific: From policy to pedagogy. Cham: Springer; 2017. pp. 241–58.

[18] Doiz A, Lasagabaster D, Sierra JM. Internationalisation, multilingualism and Englishmedium instruction. World Engl. 2011;30(3):345–59.

[19] Dudley-Evans T, St John MJ. Developments in ESP: A multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1998.

[20] Evans S, Morrison B. Meeting the challenges of English-medium higher education: the first-year experience in Hong Kong. Engl Specif Purposes. 2011;30(3):198–208.

[21] Fan X, Chen M. Parental involvement and students’ achievement: A meta-analysis. Proceedings of the 1999 Annual Conference of American Association of Educational Researcher. 1999. Available from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED430048.pdf

[22] Floris FD. Learning subject matter through English as the medium of instruction: Students’ and teachers’ perspectives. Asian Engl. 2014;16(1):1–13.

[23] Graham JG. English language proficiency and the prediction of academic success. TESOL Q. 1987;21(3):505–21.

[24] Haagen-Schützenhöfer C, Mathelitsch L. English as a medium of instruction in science-teaching. Michelini M, Cobal M (Eds.), Developing Formal Thinking in Physics; 2001. pp. 293–296. Lithostampa: Forum, Editrice Universitaria Udinese srl.

[25] Harvey L. EAP teachers’ perceptions of learner motivation. International Student Experience Journal. 2013;2(1):14–9.

[26] Hayes AF. Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guildford Press; 2017.

[27] Jiang L, Zhang LJ, May S. Implementing English-medium instruction (EMI) in China: Teachers’ practices and perceptions, and students’ learning motivation and needs. Int J Biling Educ Biling. 2019;22(2):107–19.

[28] Joe Y, Lee HK. Does English-medium instruction benefit students in EFL contexts? A case study of Medical students in Korea. Asia-Pac Educ Res. 2013;22(2):201–7.

[29] Johnson P. English language proficiency and academic performance of undergraduate international students. TESOL Q. 1988;22(1):164–8.

[30] Kasper LF. The impact of content-based instructional programs on the academic progress of ESl students. Engl Specif Purposes. 1997;16(4):309–20.

[31] Kemristekdikti. Laporan kinerja 2018. Jakarta: Kemristekdikti; 2019 Available from https://lldikti7.ristekdikti.go.id/_renstra/LAKIN_2018.pdf

[32] Kuteeva M. Revisiting the ‘E’ in EMI: students’ perceptions of standard English, lingua franca and translingual practices. Int J Biling Educ Biling. 2020;23(3):1–14.

[33] Lamb M, Kuchah H, Coleman H, Hadisantosa N, Waskita D, Ahmad NF. The state of English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) in Higher Education Institutions in Indonesia. Retrieved from https://www.britishcouncil.id/sites/default/files/ the_state_of_english_as_medium_of_instruction_in_heis_in_indonesia_full_report_final. pdf

[34] Macaro E, Curle S, Pun J, An J, Dearden J. A systematic review of English medium instruction in higher education. Lang Teach. 2018;51(1):36–76.

[35] Malcolm D. Gulf Arab students studying medicine in English. In: Ushioda E, editor. International perspectives on motivation: Language learning and professional challenges. London: Palgrave Macmillan; 2013. pp. 98–116.

[36] Mirizon S, Wadham B, Curtis D. Integrated content and language instruction: Lecturers’ views and classroom instructional practices. Aust J Teach Educ. 2019;44(3):42–160.

[37] Muttaqin S, Chuang HH, Lin CH, Cheng MM. When proficiency and education matter: the mediating role of English proficiency and moderating effect of parents’ education in the SES–Academic achievement relationship during EMI. SAGE Open. 2022;12(2):1–13.

[38] Nguyen HT, Walkinshaw I, Pham HH. EMI programs in a Vietnamese university: Language, pedagogy and policy Issues. In: Fenton-Smith B, Humphreys P, Walkinshaw I, editors. English medium instruction in higher education in Asia-Pacific: From policy to pedagogy. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2017. pp. 37–52.

[39] Oliver R, Vaderford S, Grote E. Evidence of English language proficiency and academic achievement of non-English-speaking background students. High Educ Res Dev. 2012;31(4):541–55.

[40] Osbourne JW, Waters E. (2002). Four assumptions of multiple regression that researchers should always test. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation. 2022;8(2). https://doi.org/10.7275/r222-hv23.

[41] Preacher KJ, Hayes AF. SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 2004 Nov;36(4):717– 31.

[42] Rose H, Curle S, Aizawa I, Thompson G. What drives success in English medium taught courses? The interplay between language proficiency, academic skills, and motivation. Stud High Educ. 2020;45(11):2149–61.

[43] Simbolon NE. EMI in Indonesian higher education: Stakeholders’ perspectives. TEFLIN. 2018;29(1):108–28.

[44] Song B. Content-based ESl instruction: long-term effects and outcomes. Engl Specif Purposes. 2006;25(4):420–37.

[45] Wanphet P, Tantawy N. Effectiveness of the policy of English as a medium of instruction: perspectives and outcomes from the instructors and students of university science courses at a university in the UAE. Educ Res Policy Pract. 2018;17(2):145–72.

[46] Wu SW. Students’ attitude toward EMI: Using Chung Hua University as an example. Journal of Education and Foreign Language and Literature. 2006;4:67–84.