The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Investigating perceptions of master's students on English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes in East Asia

Investigating perceptions of master's students on English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes in East Asia
Investigating perceptions of master's students on English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes in East Asia
This PhD thesis is as investigation into the positionings, voices and experiences of students who use English for their postgraduate studies in the fields of business and English language teaching, in particular relation to their writing practices. Positioning this research as informing the English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and Global Englishes fields of enquiry, emergentism, complexity theory, performativity and integrationism are drawn on in order to assist with the interpretation and characterisation of the accounts of English offered by participants in the study, and to help understand what ‘language’ is in relation to ELF research. Further to these conceptual aims, English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes are investigated and discussed in order to understand how recent shifts in higher education are impacting on the lives and educations of students studying in the medium of English. The students’ accounts of their experiences offer insights into how aspects of educational and ecological practices impact on the linguistic realities of those studying on EMI programmes in these regions.

Utilising semi-structured interviews and notes from the field, the findings indicate a high degree of diversity among student ‘communities’, with various backgrounds, orientations, experiences and future trajectories making variation an inherent characteristic of these groups and classrooms. The diversity found among and between contexts emphasises the primacy of temporal dimensions of language practices, as opposed to rigid geographical, disciplinary or cultural borders. Also, instances of students’ communicative engagements formed important parts of their conceptualisations of English (and language), but did not appear to align with current native / non-native dichotomies that are often prioritised in the field, as these linguistic landscapes are clearly more complex than can be accounted for by simple dichotomies.

Regarding writing, the findings suggest that the proliferation of static notions of ‘academic style’ and ‘formal register’ as a priori properties of English academic writing can create a feeling of distance from the meaning making practices of formal written English. This, exacerbated by reported vocabulary shortages and a perceived need to repeatedly duplicate the same forms and structures in academic essays, presents a barrier to understanding what ‘academic writing’ does, who does it, and why they do it. It also seems evident that basing normative judgements of students’ writing on intrinsically sociocultural constructs of communication, which register, formality and aspects of structure inherently are, reifies aspects of writing that are more fluid in nature, thereby reinforcing a cognitive gap between how language works and how students are taught to communicate. This also presupposes a reader, or superaddressee, who is ‘western’, or, at least, who is an advocate of ‘western’ writing cultures. Such reifications could result from direct instruction or students’ own reactions to feedback (or, more likely, a combination of both), but either way they reinforce ideas of expertise and asymmetry between teachers and students, and between experts and novices, which results in feelings of frustration among some students.

The findings support current moves in the field towards more critical and holistic forms of instruction and assessment that treat written language as a socially negotiated meaning making process, rather than as an endlessly reproduced body of pre-ordained parts that form a coherent static system of reference. Similarly, this research maintains that approaches to enquiry in Global Englishes and ELF can benefit from descriptivist engagement with people’s motivations, experiences, ideas and communicative behaviours when attempting to account for global linguacultural landscapes. Finally, it is proposed that those involved in EMI programmes might address potential issues in their contexts, particularly upon reflection on intersections between language and content, where uncritical treatment of language can result in difficulties for content instruction and assessment, and issues to student experience more generally.
Baird, Robert
42b17178-829b-4360-a5ba-85851315a02f
Baird, Robert
42b17178-829b-4360-a5ba-85851315a02f
Jenkins, Jennifer
7daf0457-86d0-4c08-af4b-79641d1f7fd0
Archibald, Alasdair
15b56a58-87df-4322-8367-70f4daff3f42
Mitchell, Rosamond
de2eabed-7903-43fa-961a-c16f69fddd7e

Baird, Robert (2013) Investigating perceptions of master's students on English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes in East Asia. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 749pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This PhD thesis is as investigation into the positionings, voices and experiences of students who use English for their postgraduate studies in the fields of business and English language teaching, in particular relation to their writing practices. Positioning this research as informing the English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and Global Englishes fields of enquiry, emergentism, complexity theory, performativity and integrationism are drawn on in order to assist with the interpretation and characterisation of the accounts of English offered by participants in the study, and to help understand what ‘language’ is in relation to ELF research. Further to these conceptual aims, English-as-a-medium-of-instruction programmes are investigated and discussed in order to understand how recent shifts in higher education are impacting on the lives and educations of students studying in the medium of English. The students’ accounts of their experiences offer insights into how aspects of educational and ecological practices impact on the linguistic realities of those studying on EMI programmes in these regions.

Utilising semi-structured interviews and notes from the field, the findings indicate a high degree of diversity among student ‘communities’, with various backgrounds, orientations, experiences and future trajectories making variation an inherent characteristic of these groups and classrooms. The diversity found among and between contexts emphasises the primacy of temporal dimensions of language practices, as opposed to rigid geographical, disciplinary or cultural borders. Also, instances of students’ communicative engagements formed important parts of their conceptualisations of English (and language), but did not appear to align with current native / non-native dichotomies that are often prioritised in the field, as these linguistic landscapes are clearly more complex than can be accounted for by simple dichotomies.

Regarding writing, the findings suggest that the proliferation of static notions of ‘academic style’ and ‘formal register’ as a priori properties of English academic writing can create a feeling of distance from the meaning making practices of formal written English. This, exacerbated by reported vocabulary shortages and a perceived need to repeatedly duplicate the same forms and structures in academic essays, presents a barrier to understanding what ‘academic writing’ does, who does it, and why they do it. It also seems evident that basing normative judgements of students’ writing on intrinsically sociocultural constructs of communication, which register, formality and aspects of structure inherently are, reifies aspects of writing that are more fluid in nature, thereby reinforcing a cognitive gap between how language works and how students are taught to communicate. This also presupposes a reader, or superaddressee, who is ‘western’, or, at least, who is an advocate of ‘western’ writing cultures. Such reifications could result from direct instruction or students’ own reactions to feedback (or, more likely, a combination of both), but either way they reinforce ideas of expertise and asymmetry between teachers and students, and between experts and novices, which results in feelings of frustration among some students.

The findings support current moves in the field towards more critical and holistic forms of instruction and assessment that treat written language as a socially negotiated meaning making process, rather than as an endlessly reproduced body of pre-ordained parts that form a coherent static system of reference. Similarly, this research maintains that approaches to enquiry in Global Englishes and ELF can benefit from descriptivist engagement with people’s motivations, experiences, ideas and communicative behaviours when attempting to account for global linguacultural landscapes. Finally, it is proposed that those involved in EMI programmes might address potential issues in their contexts, particularly upon reflection on intersections between language and content, where uncritical treatment of language can result in difficulties for content instruction and assessment, and issues to student experience more generally.

Text
R_Baird Thesis.pdf - Other
Download (3MB)

More information

Published date: 1 December 2013
Organisations: University of Southampton, Modern Languages

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366601
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366601
PURE UUID: d89d0af9-a05b-48b5-8b61-53e283e2dbfd

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 Oct 2014 12:11
Last modified: 05 Aug 2019 16:31

Export record

Contributors

Author: Robert Baird
Thesis advisor: Jennifer Jenkins
Thesis advisor: Alasdair Archibald
Thesis advisor: Rosamond Mitchell

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×