Bilingualism in the classroom: European students in Australia

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Book Chapter

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Webb, B. (2015). Bilingualism in the classroom: European students in Australia. In K. Ozanska-Ponikwia, & B. Loranc-Paszylk (Eds.), Cross-cultural perspectives on bilingualism and bilingual education (pp. 39-68). Bielsko-Biala, Poland: University of Bielsko-Biala.

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Tertiary education worldwide has undergone revolutionary changes in the last few decades due to student mobility resulting from the internationalisation of education. University student cohorts become increasingly diverse both culturally and linguistically. Students undertaking their education in another country often face challenges with not just mastering the contents of their programs, but often doing it in another language. These bilingual students strive to achieve two goals simultaneously; getting their degree and doing it in the language of instruction other than their first. This tests the ability to master the knowledge of the subject matter and their capability of successful language contact. While examining culturally and linguistically diverse student groups has attracted attention from practitioners and researchers intrigued by this phenomenon, understanding the nature of cohesive cohorts requires clearer understanding. The broad aim of this paper is to evaluate the experience of European students from non-English speaking background countries of studying at an Australian university. First, the paper outlines educational internationalization processes to provide the background for the personal student viewpoint. The paper further explores bilingual student perceptions of language related difficulties, the role of the host and home country institutions and other difficulties students experience while functioning in the second language within a new educational system.

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