Researching Chinese Learners: Skills, Perceptions and Intercultural Adaptations

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Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes Revised ed. Wee, K. Authentic problem-based learning: rewriting business education. Singapore: Prentice Hall.

Wenger, E. Cultivating communities of practice. West, D. Let's talk learning analytics: A framework for implementation in relation to student retention. Willis, J.

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Learning power: Taking learning-centredness seriously in a blended learning environment. Skip to main content. More options Print Print. Modelling Practice As noted above, modelling practice and leading by example are fundamental elements of the way I prefer to lead and plan learning activities. Add comment.

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Spam trap. Most read Most cited Related The most popular papers from this title in the past 7 days:. This volume grounds that agenda by presenting 13 research studies employing cultural analyses of Chinese learners. One of the main concerns with cultural analyses is that they may be overly deterministic, leading to cultural reification, stereotyped views of students, and deficit models. Researching Chinese Learners recognizes these difficulties. The editors seek a balance between generalizations of Chinese learners and recognition of their individuality, and in Chapter 9, Gu gives a welcome overview of critiques of the approach.

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Advanced Search. Article Navigation. There existed a widely acknowledged initial learning shock by the Chinese students involved in the studies. Learning shock refers to some unpleasant feelings and difficult experiences that learners encounter when they are exposed to a new learning environment. Such unpleasant feelings can be intense and may impose a deeper psychological and emotional strain on learners when they study abroad.

Chinese overseas students' intercultural adaptation

The psychological, cognitive and affective struggles that learners experience primarily result from their unfamiliarity with different teaching and learning traditions and a lack of confidence of using the English language for communication in the new learning environment. For example:. When I first started studying here, I was not used to either the study or the life here. I did not know where to start. In class, I did not understand the purposes of the teaching, and sometimes I did not quite understand the teacher. Lewthwaite argues that the experience of crossing cultural borders is a learning process in which there are many obstacles to overcome.

Psychological adjustment, then, is interwoven with stress and coping processes whereas sociocultural adaptation is predicated on culture learning. Experiences of the following postgraduate student indicate that differences in cultural, social and historical roots between the societies from which students are drawn and in which they are currently based are most likely to lead to an uphill struggle for them to participate fully and comfortably in class activities, particularly in the initial phase of their studies.

In addition, their stress to cope with an unfamiliar linguistic learning environment would have further contributed to the intensity of their initial struggles. In this sense, learning shock cannot be separated from cultural shock; it is indeed an important aspect of cultural shock.

When I first started my MA, I felt very strongly that I was not used to the teaching and learning environment at all. The teaching style was very different from that in China. Chinese students were taught like stuffed ducks in China, whilst here students are encouraged to take part in group discussions.

I also found that language could be a barrier, particularly in listening. I could not quite understand students from countries like Malaysia. A particular teacher had a very strong local accent, which I could hardly understand.


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Yes, they have serious difficulty adjusting to expectations of the British education system. We are trying to encourage an autonomous approach to study. Understanding that difference [in teaching] is extremely challenging to learners when they come on the course, because they are expecting to be told what to learn, what to read, the answers to produce, and they are ready to work hard doing that. Some students welcome that.

Some students are worried, intimidated, confused by that shift of responsibility. Yes, the language can be a problem.

But I think cultural issues are far more important. Rather, different fabrics of the host culture of learning and teaching will have been absorbed, integrated and personalised by individual students to take on different forms which enable them to perform well in their studies and fuel them with strength, confidence and power.

The development of students' ability to manage independent learning abilities and greater responsibility for their own study is evidenced in the following quote:. I have become more independent in my life here. As for study, I enjoy my studying because I like my subject very much. I have a lot of spare time at university. But I am mostly doing my own stuff in my spare time, something about my subject Art and Design. Due to the nature of my subject, I often make connections of what I encounter in my spare time with my subject.

British lecturers have also noticed their Chinese students' conscious and reflexive change towards more independent learning. I had an interesting example of a Chinese student who started a degree with us and she had problems. Very often the Chinese students have problems finding themselves extending from one to two years. But she went from a student who in her first year suffered all sorts of problems to a student who in her second year took a piece of research which she found, challenged it, researched it and actually came up with some original research data disputing quite an important article which she based her research on.

Ample evidence from the experiences of the case study students shows that the intercultural learning experience is also a transitional and rebirth experience. Thus, change in students' perception of plagiarism is indeed part of their wider adaptation to the academic conventions of their host countries.

For example, Cui, the female student in English Literature, commented:. But now [on Master's course] the situation is very different. I have been reading materials in my subject as the course goes along.

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So I have, consciously and subconsciously, gained some understanding in the field. Sometimes when I come across something interesting in a book, I put it down in my notebook. So when I am writing up my essay, I can use my old notes which are very useful. I also look for more references according to the specific subject of my essay.

So the process of preparing for my essays is very different from before.

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It is clear that what she had acquired over time was not only a better understanding of her subject. She had also acquired a deeper understanding of ways of writing in the host, dominant academic community. She managed to engage confidently with the academic conventions as an active and competent learner.

What shines through is her successful development and adaptation. In addition to the need to adjust academically to the local teaching and learning culture, students who travel abroad also encounter problems of adapting socially to the local society. The experience of a different living style and the confrontation of contrasting traditions, values and expectations can be emotionally and psychologically challenging.

However, when they were put together by a postgraduate student to summarise his social life in the UK, the term conveyed a powerful and profound psychological frustration that he had coped with in his student life. This frustration was additional to the learning shock related stress and tensions that he might also have suffered.

Leading a boring and lonely social life and feelings of a lack of sense of belonging contribute to Chinese students' sense of alienation in the host society. I was just wondering why I didn't feel lonely at all when I first came here. Because I didn't know what was going to happen.