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Language and anxiety: an ethnographic study of international postgraduate students.

Brown, L., 2008. Language and anxiety: an ethnographic study of international postgraduate students. Evaluation and Research in Education, 21 (2), 75-95.

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DOI: DOI: 10.1080/09500790802152167


This paper presents some findings from an ethnographic study of international postgraduate students at a university in the South of England, which involved interviews and participant observation over a twelve-month academic year. One of the major themes that emerged from this research was students’ anxiety over their level of English language. Although all students entered their course with a minimum level of IELTS 6, the majority felt disadvantaged by particularly poor spoken English, and suffered feelings of anxiety, shame and inferiority. Low self-confidence meant that they felt ill-equipped to engage in class discussion and in social interaction which used English as the medium of communication. A common reaction to stress caused by language problems was to retreat into monoethnic communication with students from the same country, further inhibiting progress in language. Whilst some linguistic progress was made by nearly all students during the academic sojourn, the anxiety suffered by students in the initial stage must not be underestimated, and appropriate support systems must be put in place to alleviate their distress.

Item Type:Article
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:4894
Deposited By: Lorraine Brown
Deposited On:21 Feb 2008 18:30
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:12


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