Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Phenomenological Study of Graduate Chinese Students' English Writing Challenges

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Phenomenological Study of Graduate Chinese Students' English Writing Challenges

Article excerpt

More students from China are looking to the United States for learning opportunities. However, such students have serious English writing deficiencies. This is due to significant differences between the two languages. This phenomenological study of five Chinese, graduate level students in the United States, informs us of these issues and provides a basis upon which we can explore viable instructional strategies to deal with such issues. The key findings suggest that the participants feel marginalized due to English language deficiencies, which is complicated by a deficiently structured English language instructional system. Based on these findings, several themes are presented that underpin the core challenges faced by the participants, as well as participants' views of desirable support mechanisms to help their English writing process. Keywords: Pedagogy, Chinese, English, Writing, Logo Graphic, Alphabetic, Curriculum, Graduate, Higher Education

As an emerging global partner in the educational arena, the United States welcomes students from many countries to study in its institutions. Of these, Chinese students represent the largest segment with approximately 304,040 learners constituting 31.2% of the international student population in the United States (Institute of International Education, 2015). The high volume of this population warrants paying close attention to any issues such students may be facing, to continue having a mutually beneficial collaboration. One issue that needs immediate attention is that Graduate students from China within the United States continue to face challenges when writing in English, despite being exposed to the English language over a considerable period in China and in the United States (Li, 2012), This suggests ineffective teaching practices in China and inadequate support in the United States for such learners in the context of English proficiencies. This problem warrants examination as the volume of Chinese students continues to grow in the United States, and the associated cultural and financial implications are significant (NAFSA, 2013). For example, in 2014-2015, the Chinese students in the United States collectively contributed $9.8 billion into the nation's economy through tuition and fees (IIE, 2016). In addition, literature suggest that working with students from foreign countries may enhance communication skills and the understanding of global communities for native learners (Morse, 2012; Peck, 2014; Yun, 2015).

Writing is especially crucial at the Graduate level, since students write not only for academic reasons, but also to prepare for professional fields, particularly in education. At the graduate level, students are expected to be efficient consumers and producers of research, which requires a higher level of writing competency. Holders of Graduate degrees are likely to seek employment opportunities in academia. Therefore, weak writing skills can be detrimental to their success as educators and negatively impact their future students (Bair & Mader, 2013; Moulding & Hadley, 2010; Mullen, 2006). Currently, there is scant literature on the challenges faced by Chinese Graduate students' English writing (Bair & Mader, 2013). In an attempt to get a deeper understanding of such challenges, and to make recommendations for stakeholders in China and in the United States, this paper seeks to provide insight to teachers that may assist with curriculum redesign for such international learners. This study sought answers to the question:

What are the perceptions of Chinese graduate students regarding
experiences
of writing in the English language?

Literature Review

Language Socialization Theory (LST): Theoretical Frame

Overview. Och's (1989) language socialization theory (LST) states that people learn language through socialization and socialize through language. Thus, language socialization involves simultaneous learning of a language and associated culture. …

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