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Language use in an English-medium instruction university in Lebanon: Implications for the validity of international and local English tests for admissions

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/08/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of English-Medium Instruction
Issue number2
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)153-179
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


nglish-medium instruction (EMI) universities in non-English-dominant contexts often use internationally available tests of English (e.g., TOEFL) and/or locally developed tests to assess the academic English-language proficiency of applicants prior to admission. However, little research has been conducted to establish the extent to which either type of test reflects the real-world classroom discourse, and associated communicative demands, within these often multilingual educational contexts. In this paper, we report on one part of a larger study designed to address this research gap in a particular EMI environment – the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon. We collected and analysed samples of language use at AUB through non-participant ethnographic observations and video recordings of eight undergraduate classes across academic disciplines. Findings indicated that classes were varied in nature, shifted between registers and levels of interaction, involved a range of translanguaging and English as a Lingua Franca-oriented phenomena, and included meta-commentary about language use. We argue that speaking and listening constructs in English-language admissions tests used in EMI contexts ideally need to be localised or locally developed to best match the unique language use characteristics of these settings.