The impact of gender and English proficiency on attitudes towards English-medium instruction

Rivista di Psicolinguistica Applicata/Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics

The number of studies dealing with the consequences of the spread of English-medium instruction at tertiary level is scant due to the fact that this teaching approach is rather new in many universities the world over, and above all in the European context. In this article two variables (namely, gender and English proficiency) that have received little attention in the higher-education literature and their effect on students’ attitudes towards English-medium instruction are examined. The participants in the study were 495 undergraduates enrolled in 21 different degrees at the University of the Basque Country in Spain. Unexpectedly, the results did not show any gender effect, whereas the impact of the degree of English proficiency turned out to be statistically significant. The students’ attitudes were highly mediated by two interrelated factors : the low level of English proficiency attained by a large number of undergraduates before entering university, and their fear of content learning being negatively affected by instruction through a foreign language.