Language Difficulties of EAP Learners at English-medium Contexts: A Case Study of Chinese Tertiary Students at XJTLU in Mainland China

| July 4, 2013
Title

Language Difficulties of EAP Learners at English-medium Contexts: A Case Study of Chinese Tertiary Students at XJTLU in Mainland China

Keywords:  Language difficulties; English-medium context; Chinese EAP learners

Authors

Chili Li

University of Liverpool, UK
Fujian University of Technology, China Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China

Zhoulin Ruan

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China


Bio Data

Chili Li is a Ph.D candidate in applied linguistics at School of English, the University of Liverpool, UK. He is also a lecturer in applied linguistics at the Department of Foreign Languages, Fujian University of Technology, China. His research interests include applied linguistics and EAP teaching in the Chinese EFL context.

Dr. Zhoulin Ruan is an associate professor of applied linguistics at the Department of English, Culture and Communication, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China. His research interests include metacognition and self-regulation in language learning, second language writing and ESP in the Chinese EFL context.

Abstract

The last two decades have witnessed a proliferation in research on language difficulties encountered by EAP (English for academic purposes) learners studying at English-medium contexts. However, there has been inadequate attention to EAP learners’ language difficulties in English-medium-instruction (EMI) settings in non-English-speaking countries. This paper reports on the findings of an investigation into the sources of language difficulties among a cohort of EAP learners studying at an English-medium university in Mainland China. Data were collected by means of a self-designed questionnaire and were then subjected to an exploratory factor analysis. The results show that these EAP learners’ difficulties center on: 1) communicating with others in academic studies; 2) reading and writing for both general and academic purposes, such as inadequacy in academic vocabulary and syntactic knowledge, writing effective paragraphs, choosing appropriate language for academic writing, and lack of knowledge about academic norms; and 3) understanding lectures delivered by teachers with various accents. The findings suggest that these difficulties are attributable to the Chinese learners’ previous English learning experiences, their English proficiency and the distinctive characteristics of the EAP learning context. This study has implications for EAP teaching in both China and other similar English-medium contexts.

[private] See page: 4-31

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Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 69