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Theme: Transition and Adjustment

English entry levels and academic success

Jane Gunn-Lewis
Te Tari Awhina/The Learning Support Centre
UNITEC Institute of Technology

English entry requirements for tertiary programmes are usually based on IELTS and TOEFL scores, which supposedly indicate how well the student will cope with the linguistic demands of their programme. This paper is based on a study of all the first year, non-English speaking background (NESB) students on a Bachelor of Nursing programme. The study sets out to investigate: whether English entry requirements are being correctly interpreted and followed; how NESB students feel about such requirements; correlations between English entry levels and academic success; and whether there are better indicators of success such as previous occupation/educational background. Although the sample group was small (25), the results indicate that educational background and/or completion of a tertiary course in academic English, may be better indicators of success than IELTS and TOEFL scores. However, it appears that English language proficiency is only one of many factors influencing academic success. It is also interesting that despite difficulties with English language, very few actually failed or dropped out of the programme; certainly fewer than their English speaking counterparts.

Full Paper in MS Word

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