Language and International Students

The presence of international students in a domestic university often brings up unique and significant challenges. Central to these challenges is the ability to understand and use the distinct vernacular that is used in each setting. Kell and Vogl (2007) present this idea as;

The possession of an understanding and ability to use colloquial and non – formal English is a key to initiating and maintaining social interactions with and outside the academy. (Kell & Vogl 2007, p.8)

There in lies the success to being an international student, get down with the lingo! (warning:expletive content) However this can be challenging as the departure from a more formal English to the colloquial rampant Australian English, coupled with a new set of cultural and societal norms can overwhelming.

While Kell & Vogl (2007) don’t necessarily delve deep into this interconnection, Kambouropoulos (2014) with her qualitative study looks to delve into these issues. The difficulty in integration is expressed over 3 broad groups; Adjustment, Academic and Social/Psychological. Most notably from these 3 groups is the understanding that some of these factors would have little to no bearing on domestic students. Issues such as parental pressure to the extent that is placed on international students is unparalleled. Although this study is limited by a low male response rate and location, it does give a good insight into the deeper effect that studying abroad can have.

What both papers do express is the need for further development by universities in relation to the connection between international students and their social and cultural experience. Although having English proficiency is necessary it is the connection to place that international students need to foster.

Simply addressing issues of standard and English proficiency in the academy disconnected from social and cultural aspects of student life will not adequately address the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. (Kell & Vogl 2007, p.9).


Kambouropoulos, A 2014, ‘ An examination of the adjustment journey of international students studying in Australia’, The Australian Educational Researcher, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 349-363.

Kell, P, & Vogl, G 2007, ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference
Proceedings, Macquarie University, Sydney,  28-29 September.



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