Re-contextualising academic writing in English: Case studies of international students in Denmark

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

With the internationalisation of European higher education continuing apace, English literacy is becoming essential for full participation in university practices, creating both possibilities and challenges for students in the internationalised university in non-English dominant Europe. A growing body of research exploring the possible pedagogical challenges of university practices in such settings has suggested that writing in English represents a particular challenge for both domestic and international students, but little insight is available into the exact nature of these challenges. The present study set out to explore in depth the experiences of non-degree international students taking up positions as academic writers over the duration of courses in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and various academic subjects in English at a Danish university.
Investigating from an emic perspective six focal students’ challenges in re-contextualising themselves as writers in English in a new university environment, data were generated from regular interviews with the participants over one semester, supplemented by questionnaires, documentary evidence, and observational data. Analyses building on concepts from Ivanič (1997) involved creating case-study portraits of each participant’s experiences with writing in two contexts (content courses and an EAP course), detailing how students’ backgrounds interacted with the writing demands that they encountered in their new study contexts to produce trajectories of authorship and non-authorship. A cross-case analysis extended these findings into a set of themes about commonalities in students’ experiences re-contextualising themselves within academia and as academic writers in English.
The results illuminate the multifaceted nature of students’ experiences as writers of English, manifested in three main areas of concern: ideational, linguistic, and interpersonal. These writing concerns were embedded in more global processes of establishing academic continuity and in managing English-mediated instruction and learning in the English-as-a-lingua-franca context, involving critical re-evaluation of known academic practices and more complex understandings of what learning to write in English entails. The EAP course produced variable effects among the participants in supporting their academic endeavours in content subjects. The study suggests that providing international students with L2 support is an educational policy worth pursuing but also that changes are needed to ensure optimal alignment with content courses, an issue in need of further research.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDet Humanistiske Fakultet, Københavns Universitet
Number of pages291
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ID: 88756189