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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impact of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs on international students' success in university courses Keefe, Karin


In this global economy, non-native English-speaking (NNES) international students are choosing to study at English-medium universities in increasing numbers. In response, many universities have instituted intensive English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs to support students who need to increase language proficiency. These may be pre-sessional “pathway” programs or EAP courses that run concurrently with disciplinary courses. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study, which includes eight cases, was to gain insight into the experiences of NNES students who took an EAP program before they enrolled in disciplinary courses. I aimed to identify the impact of the program and how it prepared students for disciplinary courses by investigating the needs of students as they moved through the first term of university study. Results of the study illustrate that students’ responses to the EAP program were overwhelmingly positive; all eight students reported improvements in one or more skill areas and increased confidence as they embarked on university classes. However, several participants expressed disappointment about the lack of opportunity to meet students from other cultures in order to broaden their experience and practice their spoken English more, especially outside of class time. Some also expressed anxiety due to a lack of academic vocabulary that they would need to function in their disciplinary courses. The participating students reported challenges in their first term of university, including difficulty understanding lectures and classmates, meeting new friends, especially English-speaking domestic students, adjusting to the expectations of a new educational system and learning to manage different, more complex tasks. Implications are discussed for policy, practice and future research.

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