Our research

Research report

Multilingual classrooms: opportunities and challenges for English medium instruction in low- and middle-income contexts

Elizabeth J Erling, Lina Adinolfi and Anna Kristina Hultgren

This research report considers the complex field of English medium instruction (EMI) policies in low- and middle-income countries. Its purpose is to provide insight and support to those responsible for setting policy or enacting it in complex language environments around the world.

Governments in low- and middle-income contexts around the world mandate that the curriculum is taught in English to secure the future development of intellectual and economic capital. But it is a complex field: while English language acquisition might allow students to access global opportunity, there is an equally compelling argument for teachers and students to use a language that is wholly familiar to them – and often, that is not English. Our latest research report shines a light on English as a medium of instruction (EMI) policy in practice. What can policymakers learn from experience to date?

Recommendations for policymakers


There are two aspects to our report: a comprehensive global literature review to draw on lessons from existing research as well as the evaluation of brand new findings from fieldwork specifically carried out for this report in two very different primary school contexts – Ghana and India. The report explores opportunities and challenges identified through interviews and observation and provides a set of valuable recommendations that will help policymakers, practitioners and academics operating in multilingual EMI environments.

This research was produced in partnership with The Open University and British Council.