The paper “ Challenges That Arise due to Students’ Non-English Speaking Backgrounds” is a controversial example of a literature review on English. As education gets globalized by each passing day and a number of international students make a beeline to the Australian universities, difficulties faced by them, particularly in terms of English language, have also become widespread and extensive. Since such issues tend to become part and parcel of an international student's life in a foreign university, a lot of research is being conducted in order to identify the problem areas and suggest remedial measures.
Recently a number of international scholars have done studies to study the extent of the problem in Australian universities (Robertson et al. , 2000; Bayley et al. , 2002; Borland and Pearce, 2002). As the research has suggested international students in Australian universities face the language problem both in terms of conversational and academic English. Speaking and writing are hit the most with difficulties felt remarkable in learning style, social difficulties that arise on account of a poor grasp on the language, and poor cultural assimilation. An interesting study by Robertson et al (2000) studied the extent of this problem from two different perspectives -- one amongst the local staff's perception of the problem, and two, the problem as faced by the international student community; specifically those that came from non-English speaking countries. While both sides had their own perception of the problem, either of the two concurred in their views that English was a key determinant in how students would learn what local teachers teach them in fluent, impeccable English, since it is the first language in Australia. Students have always complained about their lack of understanding and their concerns about writing difficulties, colloquial language, and issues related to interpretation.
Students' side of the problem is widely documented and heard, the language problem, on the flip side, creates deterrents for the native teachers as well. These reasons for these deterrents are mostly NESB (Non-English Speaking Background) students who, according to teachers, are not able to make any significant contribution to what they learn or what they discuss in tutorials. Grammar is often said to be the main lacuna in these students an according to teachers their written work is always difficult to comprehend and subsequently mark (Bretag et al 2002).
While the language problem cannot be generalized, and not all international students bracketed within the problem group, Australian university staff have mostly reported that a majority of international students do pose with writing difficulties (Bayley et al. 2002). The reason attributed for this is English proficiency variability levels among students joining Australian universities, and it is generally held that if a student faces any first problem, it will be regarding the English language in the first two years of joining the institution.
The genesis of this issue can be traced to international students' previous education in their parent countries. Most of them are used to the teacher-centered, didactic environment, which means they are accustomed to less classroom activity and conversation. That is sort of a passive learning background from which they come from as a result of which they find it difficult to make a quick transition to an active learning atmosphere. This is complicated by the presence of cultural barriers that they encounter in Australia; a fatal mix of inefficiency and lack of control over the language that results in depleting confidence levels as the language problem manifests itself more and more with each classroom interaction (Wong, 2004).
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