A qualitative case study of how an English language program at a U.S. university prepares Chinese students for U.S. undergraduate programs and communicative competence
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Chinese students account for about one-third of the international students at U.S. universities from 2013 to the present year 2020; however, many of them, after their arrival, feel it is difficult to fit into U.S. college learning environments. This study focused on how to get Chinese students ready for U.S. undergraduate programs. A qualitative case study method was utilized, and the case was the Intensive Language Program (ILP), a full-time program of an English language center at a Midwestern public university that is designed to support international students. Using theoretical frameworks on college readiness (Conley, 2010a, 2014b) and communicative competence (Canale and Swain, 1980, 1983), I explored how ILP prepared Chinese students for U.S. undergraduate programs in general, and I paid particular attention to how ILP improves Chinese students' communicative competence. My specific research questions were: 1. How do ILP teachers and leaders prepare students for U.S. undergraduate programs? 2. How do Chinese students who have finished the ILP program perceive ILP and how well it has prepared them for U.S. undergraduate programs? 3. How does ILP enhance Chinese students' communicative competence? The findings demonstrated that the ILP program provided valuable and comprehensive support to Chinese students in five overarching components: Think, Know, Act, Go, and Talk. Specifically, ILP added five great values to Chinese students: research, MLA and APA, writing, transition, and presentation. However, as they started their undergraduate program learning, Chinese students also shared two greatest needs: reading and the U.S. History course. The results are significant to the practices of the U.S. English language centers and international schools in China.
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