An ethnographic examination of international students in English composition classes: Cultural patterns, classroom dynamics, and adjustment difficulties
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTwo of the mandatory English composition classes offered by the Writing Program at the University of Arizona are all-international (NNS) and mixed (NNS/NES) sections of composition. The NNS sections consist solely of international students who are non-native speakers of English. The NNS/NES sections, on the other hand, are open to both American and international students; therefore, they are mixes of non-native and native speakers of English. This study investigates classroom interaction patterns of 35 international and 9 American students enrolled in one NNS and one NNS/NES section of composition. Data was collected through classroom observations, Teacher's Journal, questionnaires, one-on-one interviews with the participants, and videotaped lectures, in-class small group work, and teacher-student conferences. The study attempts to identify common interaction patterns within five culture groups in the two classes: Asian Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Easterner, and American. Classroom interaction patterns that reveal the students' home culture or interaction norms in educational institutions in their country are examined for this purpose. This study also compares classroom dynamics in the two sections to report whether mixing Americans with international students causes differences in the classroom atmosphere and the ease of communication among students. Finally, this study reports international students' perspectives about being in a mixed section with Americans, their thoughts and feelings about American culture and people, their adjustment difficulties in the United States and the classroom manifestations of these difficulties. The results of this study have pedagogical and methodological implications and suggestions. Pedagogically, the results and interpretations of this project can enable instructors to have a better understanding of the difficulties and interaction patterns of international students. This may lead to better teacher preparation and improved interaction between teachers and students in these types of classes. Methodologically, this study presents an application of sociolinguistic and ethnographic research in a pedagogical context. Interaction analysis in the classroom through the use of technologically-advanced data collection methods, such as video- and audio-taping, in collaboration with more common data collection techniques such as observations, questionnaires, and interviews may be inspiring to teacher-researchers who are looking for more consistency, credibility, and practicality in their research studies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching