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Tue, Dec 05



[Seminar] Listen hard and listen smart/ Sihan Zhou/ CUHK

Understanding students’ lecture listening difficulties and strategies in EMI higher education, Sihan Zhou, Chinese University of Hong Kong

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Time & Location

Dec 05, 2023, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

AAB817, HKBU, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

About the Event

Listen hard and listen smart: Understanding students’ lecture listening difficulties and strategies in EMI higher education

Sihan Zhou

Chinese University of Hong Kong

English medium instruction (EMI) is expanding in higher education globally due to internationalization trends. For students whose first language is not English, listening to EMI lectures with new, academic information can cause cognitive overload and shallow understanding. Studies have consistently found that students struggle with a multitude of difficulties during EMI lectures, such as understanding academic or specialist vocabulary, keeping up with the lecture’s line of thought, and developing meaningful, elaborate knowledge structures to retain information. Although academic listening is challenging, it is often a neglected skill in EMI language support programs which traditionally focus on academic writing and reading. This project hence focuses on this critical yet under-researched skill of listening to reveal the struggles and strategies of students in EMI university lectures.

In this talk, I will present a project that draws on a longitudinal mixed-methods design to investigate students’ lecture-related listening difficulties and strategies over their first academic semester transitioning from Chinese-medium secondary schools to EMI university programs. This period was chosen because it represents a sensitive touchstone which may affect students’ entire undergraduate studies (Evans & Morrison, 2018). Questionnaire responses from 412 freshman were collected alongside semi-structured interviews with a sub-group of 35 students at the beginning, halfway, and end of the semester to unpack the complexities of transitional lecture listening experience. The talk will share three aspects of findings, including (1) the types of lecture listening difficulties; (2) patterns of change in difficulties over the transition semester across students’ English proficiency levels; and (3) students’ self-regulated listening strategies to handle difficulties during the semester. The talk will conclude with pedagogical implications for designing language support and lecture teaching to facilitate students’ successful transition into EMI university programs.

Sihan Zhou is Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the Faculty of Education, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She completed her DPhil in Education at the University of Oxford and an MPhil at the University of Cambridge. Her work as a language educator and researcher is informed by her experience teaching EAP and EMI courses at a tertiary education level. Her research mainly focuses on English medium instruction (EMI) and students’ strategic/self-regulated language learning, most recently appearing in journals such as Language Teaching, System, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, Applied Linguistics Review, and ELT Journal. Sihan is a key member of the EMI Oxford Research Group.

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