How Chinese Exchange Students Adapt to Their Academic Course Learningin a US University: A Fresh Look at College English Teaching in China

Hong MA, Jianqiang LIN


This paper aims to depict the linguistic challenges that Sino-US exchange students face when they adapt to the demands of English-medium higher education in the US and learning strategies that they came up with to overcome the obstacles in their pursuit of academic learning via in-depth interviews and questionnaire. These findings are complemented by data collected from the real chats, classroom observations, and field notes of over 100 exchange students in a US university. The evidence shows that these students have been tided over the linguistic problems by a combination of learning strategies, strong motivation, diligence, collaborative efforts and resort to reference in Chinese for academic assistance. To probe into the transition period from mainly Chinese-medium courses to those conducted solely in English medium that they have experienced, this article reveals a “thick description” of how thirty exchange Chinese students adapt themselves to English-medium courses by tracking, describing and probing into influences exerted by the exchange program with the aim to revaluate the current College English curriculum prevailing in most universities or colleges in China.


Sino-US student exchange program; Total immersion teaching; Adaption to English-medium courses; Learning strategies


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