Teachers’ Attitudes towards Using English as a Medium of Instruction in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of a Higher Polytechnic College in Rwanda

  • James Mbonyuburyo
Keywords: English as a Medium of Instruction, Teacher’s attitude, Polytechnic College


The trend to adopt English as a medium of instruction (EMI) in different countries, in recent years, has created controversy about how effective this is and its possible effects specifically on the quality of education and on other (local) languages. This study investigated teachers’ attitudes towards using English as a medium of instruction in one polytechnic college in Rwanda. Interviews were carried out to 10 teachers and, based on the results from these interviews, a questionnaire was designed, and 92 teachers were able to respond to this. The results revealed that most teachers view EMI as an important policy as it has enabled the college and even the country to get internationally integrated and to have access to more teaching and learning resources. The majority of teachers reported that EMI has increased employment opportunities and has facilitated more academic mobility. However, teachers’ and students’ limited proficiency and lack of support were found to be the main challenges to using EMI. Despite this, most teachers reported that they use both linguistic and methodology-related strategies to overcome some of these issues. Generally, though teachers said they face some problems while using EMI, they also reported that teaching vocational courses is less demanding in terms of English proficiency as most classes are practical. Access to varied online resources, as they argued, has also reduced the burden of teaching in a language they are not accustomed to. Overall, the study revealed the need to offer more training and support to teachers in order to improve the impact of EMI.