n South African Journal of Higher Education - Experiences of Chinese international students learning English at South African tertiary institutions

Volume 20, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article aims to provide insight into the experiences of Chinese international students in some South African tertiary institutions. The study investigates their successes and failures in endeavouring to learn English and the culture shock and 'learning shock' they endure when registering to study in an African country with an essentially European-based tertiary education system. The current state of English learning and teaching in China is compared with that of South Africa, as is the daunting prospect of taking the step to study in a country on the other side of the globe where their home language is hardly spoken and their cultural background little understood. The students' insecurities surrounding their language learning suggest that the hugely different approaches in mainland China and South Africa are at the root of their anxieties and problems concerning their learning experiences. By opening up, exploring and understanding some of these differences South African academics might be empowered to help reduce the shock international students experience in adjusting to our system and assist them to achieve academic success.

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