How do previous language learning experiences influence the academic performance of Turkish international dual-diploma engineering students during their first semester of study in the U.S?
International students face many problems while transitioning into new academic and social roles (Telbis, Helgeson & Kingsbury, 2014). A great amount of research has been conducted to find out the challenges faced by international students during their undergraduate and/or graduate studies. Based on the review of literature, the main issues faced by international students may be summarized as follows: Language proficiency (Zalaznick, 2014; Liu, 2011; Sherry, Thomas & Chui, 2010; Ren et al, 2007; Yildirim, 2015); students’ earlier learning experiences (Liu, 2011; Ren et al, 2007; Morita, 2009); culture shock and cultural personality (Liu, 2011; Sherry, Thomas & Chui, 2010; Ren et al, 2007; Young, 1998) and differences in the education systems of home and host countries (Selvadurai, 1998; Leong, 2015; Yildirim, 2015; Brown, 2008).
When they go to an English-speaking country, international students, although they make every effort to adapt to the new language environment, teachers and classmates, they may struggle with their basic ability to communicate in English (Liu, 2011; Ren et al, 2007; Selvadurai, 1998). Faculty members at American universities are concerned that international students have deficient English skills which are inadequate to meet their academic challenges (Fass-Holmes & Vaughn, 2015).
Turkish dual-diploma students complete a certain part of their undergraduate education in Turkey and the rest in the U.S.A, in general sophomore and senior years in the U.S.A and freshman and junior years in Turkey. The students are eligible for two diplomas by successful completion of course requirements both in home and host countries. Just like other international students studying for a certain period of time abroad, Turkish international dual-diploma engineering students’ major barrier is their language proficiency in the USA, which influences them both academically and socially.
Along with other factors influencing international students’ academic performance in the host country, according to Kuo, 2011; Zhang & Mi, 2010; Liu, 2011 and Ren et al, 2007, international students’ prior language learning experiences have a significant influence on their academic performance in that they may be a barrier to increasing their English proficiency (Liu, 2011, p. 81), which in turn may result in a failure in academic performance of Turkish international dual-diploma engineering students during their study in the host country. The structure of the program and differences in education systems of the home and host countries also have substantial influences on English language proficiency and thus academic experience and performance of Turkish international dual-diploma engineering students.
The aim of this research was to investigate how previous language learning experiences in their home country influence Turkish international dual-diploma engineering students’ academic performance throughout their first semester of study in the U.S.A.
References Brown, L. (2008). The incidence of study-related stress in international students in the initial stage of the international sojourn, Journal of Studies in International Education, 12(1), 5-28 Fass-Holmes, B., Vaughn, A.A. (2015). Evidence that international undergraduates can succeed academically despite struggling with English, Journal of International Students, 5(3), 228-243 Kuo, Y. (2011). Language challenges faced by international graduate students in the United States, Journal of International Students, 1(2), 38-42 Leong, P. (2015). Coming to America: Assessing the patterns of acculturation, friendship formation, and the academic experiences of international students at a U.S. college, Journal of International Students, 5(4), 459-474 Liu, L. (2011). An international graduate student’s ESL learning experience beyond the classroom, TESL Canada Journal, 29(1), 77-92 Morita, N. (2009). Language, culture, gender, and academic socialization, Language and Education, 23(5), 443-460 Ren, J., Bryan, K., Min, Y., Wei, Y. (2007). Language preparation and the first year experience: What administrators and policy makers should know, Florida Journal of Educational Administration, 1(1), 11-24 Selvadurai, R. (1998). Problems faced by international students in American colleges and universities, Community Review, 16, 153-158 Sherry, M., Thomas, P., Hong Chui, W. (2010). International students: A vulnerable student population, High Educ, 60, 33-46 Telbis, N.M., Helgeson, L., Kingsbury, C. (2014). International students’ confidence and academic success, Journal of International Students, 4(4), 330-341 Yildirim, O. (2015). English related difficulties experienced by Turkish students studying in a dual diploma ELT program in the USA, Journal of International Education Research, 11(2), 107-118 Young, C. (1998). Intercultural adaptation in the classroom: The ethics of grading and assessing students with minimal proficiency in speaking English, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association, New York, November 20-24 Zalaznick, M. (2014). On-boarding internationals, www.universitybusiness.com Zhang, Y., Mi, Y. (2010). Another look at the language difficulties of international students, Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(4), 371-388
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