Dissertation

Chinese Study-abroad Students' Perceptions of Prior English-learning Experiences

Internationalization in higher education has enabled an increasing number of Chinese students to study abroad in English-speaking countries. Although these students and their families invested heavily in study-abroad opportunities, limited English proficiency may restrict students from taking full advantage of their study-abroad experience. This study employed a qualitative research method to examine Chinese study-abroad students’ perceptions of their prior English-learning experience in China and how it contributed to or limited their study-abroad experience. Ten Chinese international students studying at California State University, Fullerton were interviewed to share their perceptions of their English-learning experience in China. Findings suggested that Chinese students who participated in this study commonly perceived English education they received in China as test-oriented education. The learning strategies they used served the purpose of preparing them to pass tests but not to use the language in a study-abroad setting. Students sought additional English-learning opportunities on their own to bridge the gap between language skills they learned in school and those they later needed for study-abroad. The background and skills of English teachers were other influential factors that students identified. In addition, English exposure was believed to be very beneficial for future study-abroad students, but resources on language iv exposure in current schools were limited. In general, the test-oriented English education model in Chinese schools equipped students with language comprehension skills, but the communication skills that are crucial for studyabroad students were lacking in most regular K-12 classrooms in China, according to the respondents in this study

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