English as a Medium of Instruction in Bangladesh’s Higher Education Empowering or Disadvantaging Students?

| March 8, 2014
Title
English as a Medium of Instruction in Bangladesh’s Higher Education Empowering or Disadvantaging Students?

Keywords: English as a medium of instruction, higher education, learning and identity, Bangladesh

Author
Shaila Sultana
Institute of Modern Languages (IML)
Dhaka University (DU), Bangladesh

Bio
Shaila Sultana, Associate Professor, Department of English, IML, DU, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. She completed her BA (Hons) and MA in English from Jahangirnagar University (Dhaka). She also did a Post Graduate Diploma in TESOL (Monash University, Melbourne) and an MA in ELT and Applied Linguistics (King’s College London). Her research interests include the post-structuralist approach to language, sociology and geography, sociocultural theories on identity, and significance of English in post-colonial countries.

Abstract
This paper reports on a mixed-method study that explored the effect of English as a medium of instruction. It specifically focuses on the academic discourse and socialisation experiences of 1st year students in universities of Bangladesh. A questionnaire survey of 115 students and interviews with students from three private and two public universities were conducted. The data illustrated that the language of instruction led some of them to perceive themselves as being deficient. They felt that they were systematically excluded from the classroom discussions and activities. Thus English severely impeded their possibilities of learning and the development of identity. In other words, English exacerbated inequalities between them. The paper implies the need for a more balanced English language policy in higher education in Bangladesh.
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Category: Quarterly Journal