Recently, many universities have shifted to online teaching and learning employing synchronous teaching apps. Such practice is a logical consequence to respond to the needs of students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, not much has been known about its effects on students’ experience. Particularly, given the lack of physical presence, it is worthy to explore how online teaching and learning may influence classroom interaction, students’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in second language (L2) English, and classroom enjoyment in English Medium Instruction (EMI) higher education context. This study explores students’ views and experience in relation to these three aspects by comparing online and face-to-face classes. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were conducted with four students in an EMI taught postgraduate programme at a university in Hong Kong. These students experienced half of their courses conducted in a face-to-face mode and half in an online synchronous mode throughout an academic year. Results indicated more teacher-student interactions and heightened WTC mostly due to a lower level of anxiety. However, students reported less opportunities for peer interactions and had mixed views on classroom enjoyment. Implications are discussed in relation to how teachers can improve students’ learning experience in EMI classes conducted using online technology. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.