Date of Award

5-2019

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James H. Robinson

Second Advisor

Michael W. Schwartz

Third Advisor

Sharon E. Cogdill

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

identity, imagined community, EAP, Chinese students

Abstract

Abstract

The EAP (English for Academic Purposes) program is a contingent of courses intended to orient international students to academic endeavors in the United States, and to bring their English skill to a level at which they can successfully complete university-level work. Students generally complete Listening and Speaking, Reading and Writing, Cultural Orientation, and Administrative Orientation courses. The former two work specifically on language skill, and the latter two focus on cultural and practical matters as well.

This study aimed to determine if international Chinese students invested or resisted in EAP courses at their university due to their perceived progress toward an English-speaking imagined community. As students may engage in a class more if they find it is moving them toward their imagined future selves, it was hypothesized that students in such a course would exhibit behaviors of investment, and that students in a less fulfilling course would exhibit behaviors of resistance. Through one-on-one interviews with seven international Chinese students who have recently been in the university’s EAP program, it was shown that while behaviors of investment and resistance do occur, the impetus for such behaviors rests more on factors such as the classroom population or cultural mores of respect. Informants did not view failure in the EAP as a possibility, appeared secure in the achievement of their future goals, and generally quite comfortable in their current identity as international Chinese students - positioning an English-speaking community as somewhat of an afterthought, and a less motivating factor than those listed above. Thus, EAP courses were generally regarded as a necessary step to undertake, rather than an opportunity to progress toward an English-speaking imagined community.

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