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ISSN : 1226-4822(Print)
ISSN : (Online)
The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea Vol.26 No.1 pp.111-133

A Case Study of Nonnative English-Speaking International Students' Adjustment to a Korean University

Kim Jeongyeon
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology


In the midst of intense global economic competition, institutions of higher education in many non-English-speaking societies have rigorously expanded internationalization and seen a dramatic increase of international students. This study investigated a case of nonnative English-speaking international students' adjustment to a Korean university devoted to internationalization. A mixed method was adopted to examine the relationships between adjustment and factors including perception of English as a lingua franca (ELF), perception of English-medium instruction, cultural knowledge, and perceived language proficiency. The analysis of the questionnaire responses of 132 international students and qualitative interviews with seven of the respondents revealed their negative view of EMI, which was frequently associated with the local language used in class. Their adjustment correlated significantly with the amount of the knowledge of the Korean culture and with the extent to which they would perceive English as a means of intercultural communication. Although the relationship between their view of EMI and adjustment was not significant, it was found still valid and indirect through the factor of the Korean language proficiency. Notably, in the qualitative interviews, the participants revealed limited understanding of the way interaction is framed in different local communities. These findings are discussed to propose improved support for international students of non-English-speaking higher education.