International education is of major significance to Australia. The number of oversees students enrolled in Australian higher education institutions rose from 24,998 to 210,397 between 1990 and 2003. Most of the students come from countries where English is learnt as a foreign language. It is noted that in Australia, education is the third largest export service after tourism and transport, therefore, international student are highly valued since they are a source of revenue and improvement on their experience in education is significant in the promotion of positive reputation for Australian institutions.
These students need to adjust rapidly and learn English language fast in order to cope both socially and academically. Aims of study The paper aims at investigating the English learning difficulties experienced by oversees students studying in an English language setting in Australia. It also aims at achieving better learning strategies whereby the findings of the study will assist administrators and educators to adopt better strategies for solving the English language learning difficulties of international students in Australia.
In summary the paper discusses the findings of previous studies regarding language problems of oversees students. It is concerned with the study about the formation of second language competence and students’ English language experiences after they enter Australia with its principle aim of collecting information that would help the institutions have better plans in meeting the needs and expectations of oversees English students (East, 2001, p. 80). Literature review
It is probably no coincidence that at the same time that business and education have become more globalised, and the number of oversees students studying in English language countries have increased, research on the problems and difficulties facing the oversees students has also become intensive and extensive in Australia and elsewhere ( Ballard, 2002, p. 79). Recent studies conducted in Australia identify problems of international students in coping with English, that is, both conversational and academic English.
The difficulties are associated with the four macro skills, which are, writing, speaking, listening and reading with clear evidence made by the students themselves whereby Students and staff emphasize that language is a considerable source of difficulties in learning and teaching (Krause, 2001, p. 150). Lack of confidence with English is manifested by the students. They claim not to have clear understanding of their lecturers’ spoken English and are ashamed of their oral performances in the presence of Australian classmates.
Research done by Hellsten (2002) found out that inadequate feeling in spoken English hindered many international students from classroom participation. Language proficiency is regarded by students as the one of the main concerns affecting academic performance. In a research conducted by Burns (1991, p. 66), it indicated that more than 50% of the oversees students perceived their English language competencies as very poor, with writing skills ranked as the lowest of the four macro skills followed by listening, speaking and reading respectively.
The Australian idiomatic and vocabulary expressions, accent and speed of speaking just complicate the process of communication whereby the oversees students who would have learned English prior to arrival; adjusting to the Australian English, results to further language difficulties. Gaps Most of the studies describing the English language problems of oversees students in Australia are effective but they focus on the symptoms rather than the underlying causes and solutions (Ward, 2004, p. 69).
Therefore this study is undertaken to address the expectations of the students and language learning needs and support perceptions. The study will identify areas where information for academic teaching staff and students may need to be supplemented or improved to make sure that students study expectations and support are met, thus the project is undertaken to investigate the two research questions which include: – do the oversees students perceive a need to work on their English language skills in order to cope and succeed academically?
, and what kind of language support do the oversees students expect to find and utilize in Australian Universities?. Methodology The research employs use of questionnaires which are filled by 50 international students studying English for academic reasons in Australia. The purpose of the study and the extent of student involvement were explained before the questionnaires were distributed. The nature of the study was voluntary and those who needed to participate were required to provide informed consent.
Data analysis Once the completed questionnaires were returned, data was coded and analysed using SPSS whereby graphs and tables were generated and correlation examination done. Findings Regarding the perceived importance of improving English language learning skills, ninety six percent of respondents indicated that the opportunity for English language skills was very significant in their decision to study in Australian institutions.
The students were motivated to improve English proficiency with ninety nine percent of the respondents indicating English language skills as very significant in the success of their academic studies whereby the skills were 70% very important in achieving marks within the top one –third of the class in their specific courses. The table below shows the four main language skills which are considered to give students problems while learning English language. The students thought that they needed to improve on them in order to get high marks in their course.