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English Medium Instruction - Qualitätssicherung


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Gundermann, Susanne and Gregg Dubow. 2016. "English Medium Instruction - Quality Assurance". URL: 


The English Medium Instruction (EMI) team has developed a certification procedure to evaluate the linguistic and communicative quality of teaching in English. Degree programmes can undergo the certification procedure and obtain a quality seal attesting to the linguistic and communicative competencies of its teaching staff. The seal is valid for 5 years.

This quality assurance measure is unique in the German higher education landscape. It is advised by a panel of international EMI experts and is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (grant no. 01PL11007 - Quality Pact for Teaching).



Detailed information about the certification can be found here (access for academic staff of the University of Freiburg only).



The certification procedure has three unique characteristics:

  • takes place in an authentic setting, i.e. actual classroom observation to assess linguistic and communicative practices as they occur in a real teaching context

  • provides pluri-perspective feedback, i.e. combines expert, student, and lecturer feedback on observed lesson

  • assesses criteria specific to English-medium instruction, i.e. linguistic competencies and communicative competencies for teaching in English


Detailed information about the qualification program can be found here (access for academic staff of the University of Freiburg only).


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We want to thank Patrick Studer and Paul Kelly from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur, Switzerland for contributing to the development of these EMI-specific assessment criteria.

Linguistic Competencies for English-Medium Instruction

L.1 Fluency

Speech is fluent with rare instances of lanuage-related hesitations which do not disrupt comprehension.

L.2 Articulation and Pronunciation

Pronunciation (phonemic sound contrasts) is clear to understand, word stress is accurate according to target-language standards, and articulation does not require extra listener effort. 

L.3 Grammatical accuracy

Grammar is accurate according to target-language standards with only minor or rare inaccuracies which do not disrupt comprehension. 

L.4 Lexical accuracy and range

Lexical choice is accurate according to target-language standards and semantically transparent (avoidance of opaque idiomaticity), lexical range is broad enough to elaborate on subject-specific content and to compensate any lexical gaps.

L.5 Code consistency

Code is consistently English, both in speech and writing. If a language other than English is used, a follow-up explanation or translation in English is provided.

L. total

A certified lecturer speaks fluently with no or few instances of language-related hesitations, articulates and pronounces clearly with no or few instances where confusion might occur, and uses grammar accurately with minor inaccuracies. The lecturer’s lexical choice is accurate and the lexical range is broad enough to explain subject-specific content and to compensate occasional lexical gaps, while avoiding opaque idiomaticity. He/she consistently uses English in speech and writing and any use of a language other than English is followed by an explanation or translation in English. The overall linguistic performance might occasionally require extra listener effort but does not impede comprehension.

Communicative Competencies for English-Medium Instruction

C.1 Cohesion

Cohesion in the session is achieved through a range of cohesive devices, the structure and objectives of the session are clearly expressed, and the lesson pace is appropriate.

C.2 Prosody

Speech rate is appropriate and does not require extra listener effort and prosodic variation (intonation, stress, pauses) to enhance student comprehension can be observed.

C.3 Initiation and integration of student input

Student input and comprehension are facilitated through teacher questions and student contributions are anchored and integrated into ongoing classroom discourse.

C.4 Responses to student input

Responses to student questions or contributions are sociolinguistically appropriate, if necessary comprehension is negotiated through adaptation of (non- or para-) verbal communication (variation in prosody, use of additional media or body language).

C.5 Intercultural transparency

Locally specific concepts or matters are contextualized and explained in advance for the multicultural classroom.

C. total

A certified lecturer produces coherent speech through a range of cohesive devices to structure the session, speaks at an appropriate rate and uses prosodic variation (intonation, stress, pauses) to support communicative intention.  During a session, he/she facilitates student input through questions, integrates student contributions into ongoing discourse, responds appropriately to student input and negotiates comprehension through adaptation of  his/her (non- and para)verbal communication if necessary. Locally specific concepts and matters are contextualized and explained in advance for the multicultural classroom.  The communicative performance stimulates student participation and facilitates comprehension.


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Degree programme

Masters in Microsystems Engineering

Semester(s) of certification

SS 2015 and WS 2015/16

Number of certified staff

34 teachers

Staff feedback

Prof. Carsten Buse recommends the certification procedure to other programmes because “it is very rare to get this kind of highly qualified feedback."


Dr. Andreas Greiner recommends the certification procedure for other programmes because “the feedback is extremely helpful to control and improve the quality of the courses.”


Dr. Matthias Dümpelmann – “I received helpful feedback related to my skills for teaching in English and also to improve interaction with the students.”


Dr. Karen Lienkamp – “The student feedback and the self-evaluation sheet were excellent tools to take a snap shot of my teaching performance. The video material that the SLI team produced allowed me to slip into the student perspective and see myself teach.”


Degree programme

Masters in Modern China Studies

Semester(s) of certification

SS 2016

Number of certified staff

3 teachers

Degree programme

Masters in Geology

Semester(s) of certification

SS 2016

Number of certified staff

8 teachers

Staff feedback

Prof. Thomas Kenkmann - "For me it was the first time that my English and educational abilities were evaluated by professionals. It was an exciting and rewarding process."


Dr. Jan-Henrik May - "I felt very confident and comfortable during the test lecture, and was then positively surprised to be convinced about a range of details which could be improved."


Degree programme

Masters in Environmental Governance

Semester(s) of certification

SS 2016 and WS2016/17

Number of certified staff

22 teachers

Staff feedback

Prof. Jürgen Bauhus - "It happens rarely that we do get assessed by peers. Yet the feedback and suggestions that we received were very helpful; it initiates some reflections about our teaching that is different from that of student evaluations."


Prof. Michael Pregernig - "I found the feedback very helpful, especially since it focused both on linguistic and didactic aspects. The SLI team did a great job in observing the micro-dynamics of in-class interactions, and they gave constructive feedback on that."


Assistant Prof. Stefan Pauliuk - "I received detailed and helpful feedback as well as specific improvement options on language style and grammar, teaching methods, and student engagement. Thanks a lot!"


Degree programme

Masters in Embedded Systems Engineering

Semester(s) of certification

SS 2018 and WS 2018/19

Number of certified staff

47 teachers (of which 28 were already certified in 2015/16)

Staff feedback

Prof. Lars Pastweka - "...in retrospective, it gave me assurance that my overall communication during class is received by the students as intended and it also gave excellent clues on which areas to improve.


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Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Sprachlehrinstitut (SLI)
Universitätsstraße 5
79098 Freiburg


Louise Northover


Tel. +49 761 203-8962
Fax. +49 761 203-8959
Raum 02 008, 2. OG

Di 10:00 - 12:00
nach Vereinbarung


Susanne Gundermann
Dr. Susanne Gundermann
(in Elternzeit)


Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge