Non-nativeness in higher education; the role of L2 proficiency in study performance

Tuesday 14 November 2023, 2:30 pm
PhD student
A.H.M. Zijlmans drs.
prof. dr. R.W.N.M. van Hout, prof. dr. M. van Oostendorp
Faculty of Arts

Internationalisation and especially 'Englishification' of Higher Education has taken off. This has led to the question of whether this does not have a negative impact on the quality of education. The central research question of this thesis was: what are the challenges, advantages and disadvantages for students studying through a language other than their mother tongue. The focus was on the relationship between students' level of language proficiency in the second or foreign language and their study results. 

On the one hand, the study looked at German students studying in Dutch. The data consisted of grades and credits obtained over the entire first year, supplemented by interviews with students, teachers and student advisers, looking for further insights into possible problem situations. 

On the other hand, the study focused on proficiency in English. The data consisted of German students' English answers to an examination question and the marks awarded. This research shows that when answering an exam question, there is no relationship between language proficiency and grade. However, zooming out to longer-term study results, language proficiency does appear to play a role. 
Lidy Zijlmans (Helmond 1956) graduated in General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam, specialising in second language acquisition. Her field of work was Dutch as a Second Language (NT2), respectively at the James Boswell Institute at Utrecht University, the Department of Dutch as a Second Language at VU University Amsterdam and Radboud in'to Languages affiliated with Radboud University. She taught NT2 and trained NT2 teachers. From Radboud in'to Languages, she was seconded to Cito, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Erasmus Language Centre in Jakarta and participated in a study commissioned by the then Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment on success factors in civic integration education. She published teaching materials and books in the field of professional didactics, and wrote articles in various professional journals. 

She started her research on the influence of language skills in a second language in 2014, formally as an external PhD student but partly given the opportunity to do so by Radboud in'to Languages