Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

East Asian International Student Experiences as Learners of English as an Additional Language: Implications for School Counsellors/Expérience D'étudiants De l'Asie De L'est Apprenant l'Anglais Comme Langue Additionelle : Implications Pour Les Conseillers Scolaires

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

East Asian International Student Experiences as Learners of English as an Additional Language: Implications for School Counsellors/Expérience D'étudiants De l'Asie De L'est Apprenant l'Anglais Comme Langue Additionelle : Implications Pour Les Conseillers Scolaires

Article excerpt

The increase in the number of East Asian international students with English as an additional language (EAL) attending Canadian secondary schools is one of the many results of globalization. Not only are parents in countries such as China, Japan, and Korea investing in a Canadian education - and the competence in English that comes with it - for their children, educational institutions are also fiercely competing to attract full-paying overseas students as a way of increasing revenues (Barron, Baum, & Conway, 2007). With this changing demographic profile, one of the issues facing schools is how best to support students, especially in regard to acquiring a high level of English proficiency, so that they are able to experience a more positive adjustment to the host country, and to ensure that they are successful in their educational endeavours (Wang, 2007). Unfortunately, a narrow focus on international education without a corresponding strong infrastructure for supporting newly arrived East Asian students in our schools may put these students at increased risk for psychological problems, added transition and adjustment challenges, and leaving their academic program prematurely (Popadiuk & Arthur, 2004). School counsellors, therefore, have an opportunity to play a key role in supporting international EAL students attending secondary schools in Canada at both an individual and institutional level.

A number of issues are related to providing adequate counselling support to East Asian EAL international students. First, many school counsellors in the North American context do not possess the level of cultural competency needed to work effectively with international students from Asia (Zhang & Dixon, 2003). Even though recent counselling graduates have received multicultural training in their graduate programs, research shows that many still lack the skills and supervision to apply their knowledge to practice in their day-to-day work with this population (Burnham, Mariterò, & Hooper, 2009; Packer-Williams, Jay, & Evans, 2010). Second, international students from East Asian countries often hold negative perspectives of mental health issues, see counselling as something reserved for serious psychological problems, and may not understand the Western view of counselling or what it is meant to provide (Arthur & Popadiuk, 2010; Chen & Mak, 2008; Kuo, Kwantes, Towson, & Nanson, 2006; Pedersen, 1991). Thus, these beliefs can hinder international students from using counselling services even when it would be helpful for their adjustment. Considering these issues, it is clear that there is a gap between many service providers' knowledge and skills and service users' help-seeking beliefs and behaviours.

From a research perspective, there is a distinct lack of research focused on EAL adolescent international students in secondary schools and counselling issues. In particular, there is a paucity of Canadian studies that have been conducted with this younger population (Kuo & Roysircar, 2004, 2006; Popadiuk, 2009, 2010), which calls for more studies to better understand the unique needs and experiences of adolescent international students in Canada. Another problem with supporting East Asian international students is the lack of research about counselling EAL students. To highlight the extent of this gap, in a recent literature review, Albers, Hoffman, and Lundahl (2009) found that only 59 (4.8%) of the 1,234 articles analyzed in two school-related counselling journals between 1995 and 2005 addressed English language students and counselling. They noted that 9 articles (1%) were directly focused on counselling and EAL students, while 39 articles (3.2%) provided a secondary focus on the overlap of these two issues. These authors called for more research on EAL learners and counselling, given the paucity of knowledge and the growing numbers of such students in our schools. Taken together, it is clear that more research focused on language, adolescent international students, and school counselling would provide more robust evidence upon which to base individual and group counselling initiatives in schools. …

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