31 SES 05 B, Approaches Towards Learning English
Globalization and internationalization are closely connected. The former refers to the interconnectedness of the world economy, including the use of information technology, the on-going expansion of the knowledge economy, and the place of the English language, while the latter refers to policies and practices implemented to address globalization (Altbach, Reisburg, & Rumbley, 2009). Globalization cannot advance without deliberate efforts toward internationalization. The latter is the focus of this study, specifically how institutions of higher education can enact thoughtful, strategic, and innovative approaches to internationalization through the admission of international students and continued attention to their English language development.
Globally mobile students often seek further education in English-speaking higher education institutions. Traditional practice entails requiring baseline English language proficiency for admission measured by a standardized proficiency test with perhaps some additional coursework for students with identified weaknesses. However, few institutions provide continued opportunities to assist English language learners (ELLs) in developing discipline-specific or professional level English skills, nor do they track the progress of these students. Increased proficiency is assumed to occur as ELLs take courses and fulfill graduation requirements. A study of higher education institutions verifies these practices—a standardized proficiency test for admission with limited post-admission assessments, embedded discipline-based development opportunities, or expectations for continued linguistic progress (Andrade, Evans, & Hartshorn, 2014).
Care must be taken to establish a strategic approach to students’ pre- and post-enrollment experiences. While the literature is replete with studies on international student adjustment, retention, and cultural and academic experiences (Andrade, 2009, 2010; Andrade & Evans, 2009; Barrett-Lennard, Duworth, & Harris, 2011; Galloway & Jenkins, 2009; Ritz, 2010; Russell, Rosenthal, & Thomson, 2009; Tochkov, Levine, & Sanaka, 2010),for the most part, institutions have yet to adopt a seamless, coordinated effort to monitor the success, learning outcomes, and contributions of these students. To be effective, this planning must span pre-enrollment to post-graduation.
Common practices for improving learners’ English language skills, such as learning assistance centers, coursework, peer tutoring, or other resources, are often optional. Students may not take the time to invest in these opportunities, preferring to focus on their chosen discipline, not realizing that having higher level English language skills will decrease the effort needed to be successful in their courses or that they may complete their studies without the professional level language skills needed in their careers.
Typically, the term support is used when discussing the responsibility of institutions for learners’ English language skills and describing the specific types of programming available. The term support implies helping students get by or pass their courses. A preferred term is development. The latter encourages institutions to provide opportunities for continued advancement so that ELLs progress from baseline academic English skills upon admission to those required in their disciplines and chosen professions (Arkoudis, Baik, & Richardson, 2012; Arkoudis & Starfield, 2007; Harris & Ashton, 2011).
This paper introduces a research-based framework that serves as a guide for institutional analysis and decision-making aimed at helping ELLs further develop their English language proficiency (Andrade et al., 2014). It reports the results of a large-scale study examining the extent to which the framework is either in place at an institution or the feasibility of implementing it. The study examined the following research questions.
- What practices do higher education institutions currently use to enhance students' English language development from entry to exit?
- What is the current climate toward modifying these practices in order to encourage the development of discipline-specific and professional level English language skills?
- What future-looking strategies are being considered to promote students' English language development throughout their higher education experience?
Altbach, P. G., Reisberg, L, & Rumbley, L. E. (2009). Trends in global higher education: Tracking an academic revolution. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001831/183168e.pdf Andrade, M. S. (2009). The effects of English language proficiency on adjustment to university life. International Multilingual Research Journal, 3(1), 16-34. Andrade, M. S. (2010). Increasing accountability: Faculty perspectives on the English language competence of nonnative English speakers. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(3), 221-239. Andrade, M. S., & Evans, N. W. (Eds.). (2009). International students: Strengthening a critical resource. Westport, CT: ACE/Rowman Littlefield. Andrade, M. S., Evans, N. W., & Hartshorn, K. J. (2014). Linguistic support for non-native English speakers: Higher education practices in the United States. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(2), 207-221. Arkoudis, S., Baik, C., & Richardson, S. (2012). English language standards in higher education: From entry to exit. Camberwell, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. Bhandari, R., & Chow, P. (2011). Open doors: Report on international educational exchange. New York: Institute of International Education. Barrett-Lennard, S., Dunworth, K., & Harris, A. (2011). The good practice principles: Silver bullet or starter gun? Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 5(2), A99–A106. Choudaha, R., Chang, L., & Kono, Y. (2013, March). International Student Mobility Trends 2013: Towards Responsive Recruitment Strategies. Retrieved from http://www.wes.org/ewenr/13mar/feature.htm Galloway, F. J., & Jenkins, J. R. (2009). The adjustment problems faced by international students in the United States: A comparison of international students and administrative perceptions at two private, religiously affiliated universities. NASPA Journal, 46(4), 661–673. Harris, A., & Ashton, J. (2011). Embedding and integrating language and academic skills: An innovative approach. Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 5(2), A73–A87. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013, July). Education indicators in focus. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/skills-beyond-school/EDIF%202013--N%C2%B014%20%28eng%29-Final.pdf Ritz, A. A. (2010). International students and transformative learning in a multicultural formal educational context. The Educational Forum, 74, 158–166, doi:10.1060/0013172100360S497 Russell, J., Rosenthal, D., & Thomson, G. (2009). The international student experience. Higher Education, 60, 235–249. Tochkov, K., Levine, L., & Sanaka, A. (2010). Variation in the prediction of cross-cultural adjustment by Asian-Indian students in the United States. College Student Journal, 44(3), 677–689. UNESCO. (2014). Global flow of tertiary level students. Montreal, Canada: UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/international-student-flow-viz.aspx
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