Understanding the choice of Chinese graduate students’ English language learning in a Canadian post-secondary context

2017 IJRSLL – Volume 6 Issue 1


Wang, Huizhi
University of Saskatchewan, Canada (huizhi.wang@usask.ca)

Cottrell, Michael*
University of Saskatchewan, Canada (michael.cottrell@usask.ca)


This study explores the English learning strategies employed by Chinese graduate students before and after their arrival in Canada, to document and analyze shifts in strategic approaches to language acquisition in a specific context of post-secondary internationalization. Narrative inquiry data collection methods, framed by a qualitative co-constructivist theoretical paradigm, shaped the research. Themes emerging from data analysis suggested that participants’ reliance on memory and cognitive strategies employed in China were abandoned in favor of utilization of compensation and social strategies after moving to Canada. Participants made these changes primarily because of their desire to make best use of the English-speaking Canadian environment to improve English proficiency, as an explicit and significant aspect of their personal motivations for internationalization. An important finding of this research is that immersion in the English-speaking environment inspired participants to employ different English learning strategies leading to significant improvement in English proficiency. The study seeks to address a gap in the research literature on internationalization and second language acquisition, in order to understand and mitigate the well-documented challenges experienced by international students in transitioning from one linguistic context to a dramatically different one.

Keywords: post-secondary students; internationalization; Chinese graduate students; English language learning strategies


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrsll.2016.1262

*Corresponding Author