Sojourners and Marginal Men - Improving Language Skills through Structured Socialisation in UK Universities

Boyle, Martin Sojourners and Marginal Men - Improving Language Skills through Structured Socialisation in UK Universities. In: Languages in Education , 26/6/08 - 29/6/08, University of Hong Kong. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not available from this repository. (Contact us about this Publication)


There is a perception among some academics that poor English-language skills are a major reason why some Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking students fail to perform to the required academic standard at UK universities (Pilcher et al, 2006). Traditional research into ‘The Chinese Learner’ suggests that Chinese students fail to develop the right kind of language skills for a number of reasons ranging from L1 interference to conflict between different educational cultures (Cortazzi & Jin, 1996, Watkins & Biggs, 1996). However, concern has also been raised that Chinese students ‘ghettoise’ or ‘fail to integrate’ into UK universities (Rossiter, 2001) and that, consequently, they fail to develop the language skills which would allow them to perform to the level required by their courses. Drawing on Siu’s (1952) definition of the ‘sojourner’ as a sociological type, Spurling (2007) addresses the issue of socialisation and acculturation with reference to Chinese-speaking students in UK universities, arguing that it precisely because they are ‘sojourners’ that they sometimes ghettoise and fail to integrate. Boyle & Yu (2007) attempt a solution in a practical guide aimed at Chinese students intending to study in the UK, but there seems little evidence of UK universities creating a structured environment where Chinese students are positively encouraged to socialise and acculturate. This research focuses on a project at a UK university where international students are required to join the student union and take an active part in a society with a view to developing appropriate language skills through acculturation. They are tested through a written report and a formal presentation. Using questionnaires, interviews, presentations, reports and visual ethnography, the research tracks a group of students and shows how this kind of activity develops appropriate language skills and leads to better academic performance.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: L Education
Divisions: Faculties > University wide - Teaching/Research Groups
Depositing User: Martin Boyle
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 14:38
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2011 14:38
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):