COMPARATIVE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FRESHMEN USING ENGLISH VS. SPANISH AS MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION
The status of English as lingua franca has led many universities throughout the world to implement the use of this language as a medium of instruction (EMI). On the one hand, there is the belief, sometimes voiced, that students in EMI, assessed in a language which is not their own, will be disadvantaged, although there are some studies that suggest that those effects tend to be reduced with time as the EMI students become more proficient in English. On the other hand, there is another belief that EMI students academic performance was better from the beginning, so they will naturally do better.
The setting for this research was the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain) where the students enrolling in the Business Administration undergraduate degree can chose between the English-Medium of Instruction (EMI) strand or the Spanish-Medium of Instruction (non-EMI) one, provided they have, at least, a TOEFL 87-109 or its equivalent proficiency level of English. The subjects shared similar cultural and educational backgrounds all with at least 12 years of education through the Spanish medium (primary and secondary studies).
This research explores the impact of language on academic performance and determine whether there are significative differences in the grades obtained by the students using EMI and those that use Spanish (non-EMI), their mother tongue, in all the ten (core) courses of their freshmen year. The courses syllabus for both types of programmes is the same and they have the same final exam, only translated into English.
The initial data set consisted of the cohorts of students who first enrolled in the Bachelor Degree in Business Administration at the UCM in years 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12. In order to avoid the bias due to external factors, a paired design has been chosen, so that each student from the EMI group has been paired with another student from a non-EMI group, both from the same enrolment year, with the same population characteristics (for example same gender and age) and same access grade to university. Therefore the 105 (23, 33 and 49 respectively) students that did all their freshman year courses in English were paired, and their results compared with those obtained by their partners on the non-EMI group using multivariate techniques.
The authors hypothesize that there are not the afore mentioned differences in the students' performance between the EMI and non-EMI group, so the academic output for students from one group and the other one should be statistically similar. But the obtained results show that those differences effectively exist.