Questions in English as a Medium of Instruction versus non-English as a Medium of Instruction Lectures

  • Carmen Maíz Arevalo Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Keywords: Questions, English as a Medium of Instruction, EMI, Tertiary Education


University lectures are by far the most common method of teaching at Spanish universities. More recently, however, this knowledge transmission has become increasingly interactive. Students’ participation and verbal output becomes especially important in classes where the language of instruction is not the students’ mother tongue but a second or foreign language such as English since it gives them the opportunity to produce output in that second language. One of the ways to allow for students to participate is the lecturer’s use of questions. The aim of this study is to compare the same lecturer’s use of questions in her mother tongue or L1 (Spanish) versus her lectures in English (L2). More specifically, I intended to answer the following research question: Is the frequency and type of questions affected by the language of instruction (Spanish vs. English)? It is hypothesized that questions will be more frequent in English so as to boost verbal interaction between the lecturer and the students and allow them to produce verbal output in English. To test this hypothesis, a group of six lectures by the same lecturer (3 in English and 3 in Spanish) was analyzed, involving two groups of students taking the same subject albeit in one of these two languages. According to expectations, results show that English lectures display a slightly higher frequency of questions than those in Spanish. However, a qualitative analysis also reflects interesting aspects of the type (and characteristics) of questions in English.

Author Biography

Carmen Maíz Arevalo, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Carmen Maíz-Arévalo is professor of Pragmatics and English at the Complutense University of Madrid, having obtained her PhD in English Linguistics in 2001. Her fields of interest are mainly pragmatics and intercultural pragmatics; more specifically, speech act theory and verbal (im)politeness in computer-mediated communication. Her most recent publications include the articles: “‘Small talk is not cheap’: phatic computer-mediated communication in intercultural classes”, published in Computer Assisted Language Learning (2017); "Jocular mockery in computer-mediated communication: A contrastive study of a Spanish and English Facebook community" in the Journal of Politeness Research (2015), “Just click ‘Like”’: Computer-mediated responses to Spanish compliments", published in the Journal of Pragmatics in 2013, "“Was that a compliment?” Implicit compliments in English and Spanish", also in the Journal of Pragmatics in 2012 or “You look terrific!’ Social evaluation and relationships in online compliments", co-authored with Antonio García-Gómez and published in Discourse Studies in 2013. She also acts as a reviewer for different journals such as the Journal of Pragmatics, Sage Open, Verbeia (Journal of English and Spanish Studies) or Revista Iberoamericana de Tecnologías del Aprendizaje. Besides her research and teaching, Carmen Maíz-Arévalo is currently the academic secretary of the department of English Linguistics at the Complutense University.

How to Cite
Maíz Arevalo, C. (2017). Questions in English as a Medium of Instruction versus non-English as a Medium of Instruction Lectures. GIST – Education and Learning Research Journal, (14), 6-31.
Crossref Cited-by logo

More on this topic