The moving finger: Asian international hotel school students developing English language writing skills
AbstractThe number of international English as a Second Language hospitality students completing their degree programs in Australasia has risen dramatically in the past decade. One factor that may be motivating students to undertake tertiary studies in Australasia is the expectation that this form of immersion in English language degree programmes will lead to improved English language skills. However, existing research, such as research on the impact of study abroad programs on learners’ second language (L2) skills, has produced mixed findings. Furthermore, most of this research has tended to focus on progress in L2 speaking skills. To date there has been very little research on the impact of living and studying in the L2 environment on learners’ L2 writing development. This paper reports on a study that used a test–retest design to investigate changes, if any, in the learners’ academic writing after one semester of study in an L2-medium university. The writing scripts of 25 students who did not access the formal language support programs offered by the university were analysed using a range of qualitative and quantitative measures. The study found that after a semester of study at the university, the learners’ writing improved mainly in terms of structure and development of ideas. There was also some improvement in the formality of learners’ language, but there was no evidence of improvement in linguistic accuracy or complexity. Strategies used to incorporate source materials also remained largely unchanged, with learners continuing to copy verbatim from sources and acknowledging sources incorrectly. A number of factors are put forward to explain these findings. These factors include the short duration of the study (one semester) as well as perhaps the absence of feedback.
Keywords: English language skills, hospitality students, impact of studying abroad, improvement, L2
Research in Hospitality Management 2012, 1(2): 53–63