Feeling comfortable at higher education facilities represents a key to successful completion. The challenges that some groups of students may face are extensive and should be understood in greater detail to be resolved in the most effective way possible. For non-native English speakers, studying in a language that is not their first creatives a wide variety of complications within the academic area.
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International students are faced with such challenges as issues associated with spoken English, accent, language proficiency, the limited availability of support services, as well as the requirement to meet the reading and writing standards of their institutions. Because of this, it is essential to studying the issue in greater detail to have a broad perspective on the topic as well as offer guidance to both students and educators.
Both observations and interviews have revealed that non-native English speakers are challenged by spoken language requirements that their educational facilities impose. One of the most prevalent issues as related to this point refers to the lack of vocabulary, the knowledge of words, as it prevents students from expressing their points of view when interacting during lessons (Heriansyah 37).
Limited vocabulary is a reason for some students being afraid of making mistakes and embarrass themselves in front of their peers, which furthers the issue even deeper. As mentioned in the research by Heriansyah, speaking the language that one has not been taught since childhood is complicated beyond the knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, as the fear of failure has a negative emotional impact (37).
Importantly, non-native speakers are also expected to acquire knowledge as to have native speakers use language in the context of social interactions. For the majority of non-natives, interpersonal interactions using a second language offer even more value than the academic setting because of the opportunity to develop conversational language skills that are imperative for successfully integrating into society.
Therefore, proficiency in using a second language in an educational setting is a significant challenge that non-native speakers experience regularly. However, there is no specific test that could put students “into different groups homogeneously based on their language proficiency levels” (Akbari 396). This calls for more considerable attention on the part of educators to recognize the specific issues associated with students’ proficiency levels and creating targeted programs that would help them to overcome the problem.
The availability of support resources intended for helping non-native speakers develop positive language skills is relatively limited. According to Peters and Anderson, who studied the topic of support of non-native English speakers at the University of Minnesota, there are four specific campus support resources that both the faculty and students find the most helpful (15). They include individual writing consultations, English language consultations, English language courses, and content-specific English language courses (Peters and Anderson 15).
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The more services there are available to students, the more likely they are to engage in the process of language improvement to develop practical English skills. The format of support options can depend on the capabilities of each separate educational facility. However, it is imperative to provide students with a broader range of support services that they can use for language improvement.
When there is a set high expectation of reading and writing literacy for non-English speakers, there is a higher likelihood of such students experiencing tension as to be as perfect as possible. The view of scholars on this issue is quite mixed. For example, Fleckenstein et al. suggested that English reading and writing proficiency represented an ongoing process of globalization and were “underrepresented in the international discourse on educational outcomes” (3). Fleckenstein pointed out that the difficulties in reading and writing were issues that did not depend on the capacities of students but rather insufficient resources available to them (3).
The limited exposure to both reading and listening input, for example, is a challenge that can be eliminated with the help of ensuring that enough knowledge and training are disseminated among students when it comes to dealing with a broad spectrum of challenges. The use of educational technologies can play a positive role in helping non-native English students attain the expected degree of competence. Environments that communicate the expectations of achievement while also offering resources to facilitate that achievement are more likely to be positive contributors to students’ language development.
In terms of recommendations for further practice, it should be mentioned that the challenges that non-English speaking students face in higher educational institutions exasperate when there is limited availability of support resources. For improving the educational attainment of non-native speakers, colleges are expected to invest in services that offer support and guidance to students. These can range from individual consultations to content-specific English language courses.
The overall goal of supporting non-native English speakers at higher education institutions in fostering environments in which they can feel accepted and valued. The investment into tools that can facilitate the integration of second language learners is necessary for ensuring that the language skills improve through support and positive reinforcement.
Akbari, Zahara. “Current Challenges in Teaching/Learning English for EFL Learners: The Case of Junior High School and High School.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 199, 2015, pp. 394-401.
Fleckenstein, et al. “Proficient Beyond Borders: Assessing Non-Native Speakers in a Native Speakers’ Framework.” Large-Scale Assessments in Education, vol. 4, 2016, pp. 1-19.
Heriansyah, Hendra. “Speaking Problems Faced by the English Department Students of Syiah Kuala University.” Lingua Didaktika, vol. 6, no. 1, 2012, pp. 37-44.
Peters, Bethany, and Michael Anderson. Supporting Non-Native English Speakers at the University of Minnesota: A Survey of Faculty & Staff. University of Minnesota, 2017.