Report International students and English difficulties

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Cross boundary movements in students has increased as a result of globalization and an ease in an uptake of foreign and international students in many western universities. Education level has thereby improved in many countries. On the other hand, there is a set of issues being faced by international students when they reach western universities especially in case of assessments. These issues will be briefly discussed in this paper.


a.                 Research Statement

International students getting admissions to western universities face issues when assesses at western universities. These issues are to be taken into consideration and given solutions so that these issues can be reduced.

b.                 Purpose

Main purpose of this report is to carry out an analysis on the issues being faced by international students after they seek admissions in western universities.  These issues can be based on cross cultural differences or language barriers. There is a need to explore the issues that are faced by these international students. Globalization has increased cross boundary movements of younger students to universities in western countries in order to achieve better education for better career. Thereby this cross boundary movement refers to an increase in cross-cultural gathering in western universities that can lead to a variety of issues being faced by international students and these include language difficulties and cross cultural issues. Values that are followed in western countries are different as compared to values in other parts of the world. There is a need that western universities realize these issues being faced by international students so strategies  are designed that can help in creating academic environments that can help increase learning capabilities in international students.

c.                 Background

On a global scale, as compared to the previous situation, millions of students wish to undertake international education and this has lead to an increase in a shuffle of students between multi cultural education systems.  These days it is of no wonder that in every international university there is a multi cultural students gathering who belong to multiple cultural backgrounds. Thereby western universities are in a need to create academic environments that are suitable for learning in case of international students that can foster and enhance learning experiences within a culturally diverse classroom. It has been realized that higher numbers of international students exist in classrooms in western universities. From within these students a greater number of students belong from the countries where English is a secondary language or English is only taught as a foreign language. Thereby on this behalf, there is an additional responsibility for authorities, as they need to analyze verbal and written English capabilities of international students instead of making assumptions about learning capabilities based on English language as they belong to different cultural backgrounds.

Literature review

International students belong to a variety of cultures and when they migrate to western universities for the purpose of education, they are required to adjust themselves within the western cultures (Carr, Sexton, and Lagunoff,  2007, p. 56). In case of these international students, it has been realized that norms and values being faced by them in western countries are different as compared to norms and values followed in their departments in respective universities (Carroll, and Ryan, 2006, p. 67).

In this case, researchers have analyzed that there is a set of issues being faced by these international students (Ammon, 2001, p. 67). Primarily issue that these students face is adjusting to different cultures as they are in a need to negotiate and learn cultures of the western countries. The main advantage that international students gain by negotiating with western cultures is an additional ease in accessing academic, educational and social resources available in western country (Ritchie, Carr, and Cooper, 2003, p. 56).

One of the most important issue that is generally faced by the international students relates to language barriers (Lipson, 2008, p. 45). It has been mentioned by the researchers that international students have a wide range of English language abilities and in some cases, these abilities help these students in getting through the assessments in western universities (Koenig,  2002, p. 67). Language barrier explains issues being faced by international students in case of assessments being held in western universities (Ward, Bochner, and Furnham, 2001, p. 34).

Researchers have argued that international students who belong to the countries where English is a secondary language face issues during conducting oral presentations. On the contrary, it has been argued that these oral presentations have been seen as a learning experience for international students as they can learn to communicate their messages to western students. Thereby researchers argue that oral presentations are not just another kind of assessment task for international students but it is a learning opportunity (Hutchison, 2005, p. 67). In the case of these kinds of presentations, an issue that can be faced by international students can be that of interaction and questioning from the teachers and peer students (Haynes, 2007, p. 34).

·                    In western countries, it is encouraged that students ask questions from the mentor but in some cultures and countries, asking questions from the teacher is considered disrespectful.

This is an example of a university based cultural issue that can be faced by the international students (Kurucz, 2006, p. 45). It has been specially observed in case of international graduate students who work as research assistants. International students who are in the habit of not asking questions from the professor, while taking a class in western universities can be considered as absent minded in class (Porti, Ching-Hwa, Lewandowski, et al. 2005, p. 23). In some cases, these students can be seen as less intelligent to understand what is being taught in the class with an additional factor of lack of interest to be anticipated by the professor (Forest, and Kinser, 2002, p. 45).

Thereby it has been argued that while presenting an assessment task orally, international students face serious issues. Being uncomfortable with a culturally diverse community can be one of the main reasons (Immerfall, 2009, p. 34).


English is the most spoken language in the world. The importance of English language has been considered important in case of issues being faced by international students especially in case of assessments (Arthur, 2004, p. 67). It has been seen that primarily based on language, international students in western universities face a set of difficulties (Pedersen, 2007, p. 78). Although English language is considered as lingua franca, still there are many countries where English language learning and teaching ratio is very less.

Figure 1: English Language learning in Multiple Countries


This table shows that countries as Korea, Spain and Somalia have comparatively higher number of English language learning students as compared to countries as France, China, and Japan. International students from these countries are higher in number in western countries and it has been seen that students from these countries face more issues in assessments in western universities comparatively (Arthur, 2004, p. 67). Reason is that language centers in these countries are not working on English language learning in students that is in turn causing difficulties in these students to adapt to western university’s academic environments (OECD Publishing, 2004, p. 50).

Figure 2: Issues faced by International students in western schools


Additional facts have been learnt in this regard, as the table shows that among the list of disabilities seen in international students, language barriers are on the third number. Thereby there is a link between assessment-based issues faced by international students and language barriers (Hayden, Thompson, and Levy, 2007, p. 67).


Research has indicated that one of the major problems that are faced by the international students is related to assessments in western universities. These assessments can be written, as well as oral. Issues in these assessments are related to cross cultural adjustment issues and on the other hand, most importantly these are related to the language barriers that these students face. Researchers have given an argument that relates to ratio of teaching English in non-English speaking countries. In this case, it has been observed that there are many countries where English is not being taught in higher numbers thereby ignoring its importance in western countries. These ratios have thereby posed assessment based issues for these students.


In case of assessments it has been seen that international students face issues in case of oral presentations. There is a set of recommendations that have been generated by the researchers that can help international students in solving these issues along with giving an importance to adapting to western cultures.

1.                 Most of the international students are stressed about the fact that they are sitting in an English community thereby there might be a need to use complex vocabulary. This is because of the fact that use f complex vocabulary can make them feel belonging from English crowd rather than from other cultures that are based on non-English speaking origins. Thereby under a pressure and a stress, international students work harder on having oral presentations made in well-built vocabularies. However this has been seen of no use as international students waste more than half of their times on searching for words rather than concentrating on the assessments and lose marks. Thereby it has been argued by the researchers that keeping simple wordings in these assessments can help. The main aim of thee assessments is to judge knowledge and communication skills rather than language abilities.

2.                 Second main recommendation that has been given is that international students do not need to work on their accents in order to deliver better oral presentations as it is seen that varied accents from students of different cultural backgrounds are appreciated and better scored thereby giving international students an edge.


International students come from different countries. These countries can be English speaking and non-English speaking countries where English is considered as a second language. Thereby there are some important points that are raised by the researchers in this scenario. Cultural differences is one of the primary issues faced by international students and adapting to western culture that is in most cases different as compared to the culture of the home country, can be helpful for  international students for building better relationships, peer to peer interactions and friendships. Other than this, it has been seen that language barriers in these students can create issues for these students in case of presenting or solving as assessment. Thereby it has been suggested that instead of earning complex vocabulary of western countries’ languages, international students in their native accent should be presenting the assessments that can help them score better.


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