Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

English Language Proficiency: Social and Academic Adjustment of Pakistani Postgraduate Students Abroad

Academic journal article The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

English Language Proficiency: Social and Academic Adjustment of Pakistani Postgraduate Students Abroad

Article excerpt

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Language has to be assumed as one of the major barriers encountered by an international student while living in an alien land (Yieh , 1932; Fatima, 2001; Parker, 1999; Chen, 1996; Meyer, 2001; and Tomich, McWhirter, and King, 2000; Trice, 2003). A number of research studies have been carried out regarding language competency in respect of adjustment to both the academic settings and social integration. Regarding the importance of proficiency in a second language, Mallinckrodt & Leong (1992), Constantinides (1992), Antwi and Ziyati (1993), Wan et al. (1992), Surdam & Collins (1984), Chen (1996) and Ward & Kennedy (1999) widely considered language competency as one of the vital components for international students in their adjustment abroad. Poyrazli and Kavanaugh (2006) asserted that those international students in the United States of America (USA) who secured low grades in their academics were due to their insubstantial English competency and were struggling to adjust in social environment as well. According to Chen (1999) and Mori (2000), language limitations especially in the academic settings impede comprehending the lectures, writing assignments, verbal and written examination and capability and confidence to ask questions during the lectures. Zhai (2002) concluded that both, linguistic and communicative incompetency, were found to be one of the troublesome issues faced by the student sojourners in their cross-cultural transition.

While Barrat and Huba (1994) explicate that those student sojourners possessing high level of language proficiency, were more confident and positive in respect of establishing interpersonal relations with non-natives. The findings of Poyrazli et al., (2002) are congruent with the above as they describe that English language proficiency of student sojourners indicated their smooth adjustment, both socially as well as academically, and especially establishing relations with locals.

It is argued that the researchers mostly highlighted those international students (Non-native English speakers) who were intended to pursue their education in one of the prominent English speaking countries such as USA, the United Kingdom (UK) & Australia, or even in countries where the medium of instruction is English. They are agreed over the premise that lack of English language competency has been felt by almost all the student sojourners. As according to Andrade (2006) student expatriates academic adaptation has a major concern with the language issues. While, despite of the fact that most of these student sojourners have qualified English language proficiency test (i.e., TOEFL or IELTS) one of the standards for a language competency being a prerequisite to get admission in these colleges or universities, it is argued that majority still are encountering language proficiency (Suseela & Selan, 2011). Similarly, Andrade (2006) asserts that to perform well in the academics by the student sojourners in respect of competing their class fellows, could not be associated with the TOEFL score. Despite the graduate student sojourners scored higher than their younger counterparts on TOEFL, speaking and writing were found hard to cope with by both these student cohort than listening and reading.

Contrary to the above conclusions, based on a premise that the academic achievement was not related to the language competency, adverse results have though been discovered by other researchers. As according to Stoynoff (1997) a significant association was found between TOEFL score of the international undergraduate students and their academic performance. Johnson (1988) established that Grade Point Average (GPA) of international students in terms of proficiency level was being anticipated by the TOEFL score. Those student sojourners securing low TOEFL scores could not cope with the heavy workload in terms of extensive reading and writing assignments and thus were less successful than those securing high score. …

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