Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Graduate Students' Academic Writing Practices in Malaysia: Challenges and Solutions

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

International Graduate Students' Academic Writing Practices in Malaysia: Challenges and Solutions

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article focuses on the challenges faced by non-native English speaking international graduate students in their academic writing practices while they studied at a university in Malaysia as well as the solutions they employed when faced with the challenges. Academic Literacies Questionnaire was used to collect data. Based on 131 participants, the findings indicate that non-native English speaking international graduate students faced challenges in their academic writing practices in the instructional settings where English was used as a medium. In addition, the results revealed that some challenges those students face were mainly attributable to the fact that English in Malaysia is not the native or first language. This study suggests policies and programmes to meet the unique academic writing background needs of these students and ensure their academic success.

Keywords: international graduate students, academic writing practices, challenges, solutions

South East Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore where English is the second language, are increasingly attracting foreign students (Crewe, 2004; Reinties, Beausaert, Grohnert, Niemantsverdriet & Kommers, 2012). There is a wide gap in research pertaining to the academic literacy practices in South East Asian countries including Malaysia (Crewe, 2004; Reinties, et al, 2012).

In Malaysia, international graduate students, especially from the Middle East countries, contribute as one of the largest blocks of students (Ministry of Higher Education, 2010). The increasing number of international students studying in Malaysia has brought linguistic, educational and cultural diversity (Carroll & Ryan, 2005). Kaur (2000) discovered that stakes are high in the taught Master programmes that international graduate students are enrolled in. These Master programmes comprise coursework or mixed mode programmes that require students to attend lectures, participate in tutorials and fulfill various academic literacies demands. The learning in these Master programmes in the university is facilitated through classroom lectures, tutorials, seminars, individual project work, industrial or business placement, problem-solving classes, group projects, research dissertation or discussion groups.

Majority of the non-native English speaking international graduate students enrolled in the Master programmes at the higher education institutions in Malaysia have exposure to academic literacies from their previously gained formal education in their native countries. This attribute crucially impacts the challenges related to the academic literacies when they come to Malaysia to further their study. Furthermore, the use of English as the medium of instruction for majority of the Master programmes caused more academic adjustment problems for the students (Kaur, 2000).

In Malaysia, these students qualify to further their study at graduate level based on their English language qualifications such as the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results and academic qualifications such as their cumulative grade point average of their previous degree. However, they are still unable to grasp the new and different academic expectations in their academic writing practices as well as adapt to appropriate academic demands of their academic writing as mentioned in academic studies (Kaur & Shakila, 2007; Sidhu & Kaur, 2009).

However, much of the research on academic writing practices of non-native English speaking international graduate students is confined on students studying in the English as first language environment, such as in the Anglo Saxon countries. Therefore, the underlying motivation of this research study was to explore the academic writing practices of the non-native English speaking international graduate students in Malaysia, where English is the second language.

Review of Related Literature

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Writing in a discipline requires a complete, active, struggling engagement with the facts and principles of a discipline (Rose, 1985). …

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