Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Education
For international students in institutions of higher education, language, or language proficiency can be an issue because they may be attending an institution in which the medium of instruction is different than what may be considered to be their native language or their L 1. When it comes to the United States in particular, universities have an English proficiency policy in place for incoming international students from non-Anglophone countries. The question of which country is considered an Anglophone country and hereby exempt is determined by each institution separately.
The particular policy is divided into a pre-admission and a post-admission phase. This study examined the responses of students studying at Louisiana State University, where pre-admission students are required to take one of three standardized English proficiency examinations – Testing of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) and achieve a cut off score set by institution. After students arrive to the United States, they are also required to take the Michigan Test, and based on their scores on the Michigan Test, individuals may or may not be placed in remedial English classes.
The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of individuals who go through this English language proficiency system. The results showed that when it came to the pre- admission English proficiency tests, some individuals had difficulties reaching the cut off scores, resulting in individuals possibly having to re-take the test multiple times to reach the desired score. Furthermore, when it came to the post-admission side, respondents reported a lack of transparency as they reported being informed on the day of the international student orientation that they have to take the Michigan Test and that they were unaware of the test until then. Moreover, respondents reported being unable to receive a numerical value score for their Michigan Test, even when specifically requested; that the only communication that they receive regarding their Michigan Test results are which class they have been placed in. The Michigan Test, overall, was not viewed favorably because they have to do it when they are tired from a full day of orientation and they feel that another English proficiency test is repetition as they already “proved” their English proficiency in the pre-admission test.
Opinions varied regarding the remedial English classes. Some respondents reported that they found the classes beneficial and they learned a lot from it alongside providing the opportunity to interact with individuals with whom they do not share a common language with, other than English, while others considered the classes to be a waste of time and that they gained no new knowledge from it. It appears that regardless of which specific remedial English class that the respondents were placed in, that the class content remained the same, which was to focus on three essays throughout the semester.
Khan, Shana, "The Experiences of International Students Regarding English Proficiency and Policy in a Higher Education Setting" (2020). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 5291.
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