Language has profound effects on how a person perceives and process a piece of information. For learning purpose, it is indispensable to have the proper knowledge of the language in which one is pursuing a degree. Association of International Student Assimilation (AISA report, 2014) reported that most of the international students show poor academic results and low proficiency in English language is thought to be the biggest reason of their poor academic performance. It is considered that the international students who come to the UK for their higher studies, are always surpassed by the home students and the language plays the most significant role in their learning incapability. There are two aspects which need to be discussed here. First, do most of the international students really lack the required proficiency in English language and if yes then how does it affect their academic performance?
International students only get the admission in foreign universities after passing the language test and it is also known that English is a part of the curriculum in most of the countries and the non-native students who come to England they are taught English from their childhood in schools and then in colleges so English is never a new language to them. Having said that, the students do get admission in the foreign universities after passing the test but they prepare for the tests for several months. These tests have set patterns and encircle limited aspects of the language so these students often practice and prepare for the tests. Moreover, these tests are often written and it is not possible to judge the exact level of the students’ language proficiency through these tests. The international students get education in English language in their native countries as well but the effects of native language do not let them fully grasp the in depth knowledge of English language. They are taught in the cultural settings and it is not possible to develop proficiency in a second language while living in a native land where everyone speaks and writes your first language. So yes, the probability of low proficiency in English language is quite high. This low proficiency highly affects the quality of education and learning of the international students.
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The international students have to face several distressing situations due to low proficiency in language. Lecturers of St. John University said that these students do not have proper listening skills and for that reason they fail to fully engage in the class when the lecture is being delivered. They also find it extremely difficult to complete their written assignments appropriately. A lecturer named, Mark Quinn said that most of the international students do have the required knowledge for an assignment but they do not know that how to write down the ideas in English. They prepare the draft of the assignment in their native language and then poorly translate it. The teachers have also found international students seeking help from the professional academic writers for the completion of their academic assignments. This all shows that the international students have to go through a lot of suffering because of the lack of language skills.
It is also claimed that maybe these students show underwhelming results because of other factors than language. They might have some kind of learning disability or they might have low motivation levels. It can be true but this is observed that even the students who were high achievers during their academic years in their native countries, tend to show poor academic results when they come to any university in UK. This is further explained by the linguists that academic text is way more complicated than the language which is used for formal conversation and this why even after having extensive knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary, the international students fail to comprehend the English academic text. A linguist Robert Kaplan further explained that each language follows a specific written structure which is totally different from other languages. Everyone has the influence of the natural rhetoric structure of his native language and it influences them when they try to write in second language. A language specific structure is appreciated in one language but will not be accepted in the other language. The English natives tend to use “linear” rhetoric type and people coming from other backgrounds fail to craft academic papers like the home students and thus fail or underperform during their academic years in a UK university.
Most of the international students do perform poorly while studying in a UK university and the reason behind this is usually their low language proficiency. Understanding academic text and academic writing need high level of proficiency and even after being excellent learners and after putting in tiring efforts, the international students fail to perform better than the home students and this happens majorly because of the language barrier.
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Low Proficiency In English Language As The Most Significant Barrier For Foreign Students.
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