Radboud Students at a Lecture
Radboud Students at a Lecture

Role and impact of second language on study performance in higher education

This study investigates the challenges, benefits and disadvantages of studying in a language that is not your mother tongue, from the point of view of the non-native students themselves, but also from the point of other participants having to deal with non-nativeness in communication in an academic setting. Our primary concern is the role of language.

The aim of this project is to examine the study success of students in an academic educational environment as they have to operate at an academic level in a different language or different languages than their mother tongue. We will research the Dutch situation, in particular the situation for German students at a Dutch University. This group of students can be taken as an example for its homogeneity as well as for its numbers.

Most German students at the Radboud University enroll for a study in psychology where the language of instruction and testing is Dutch and part of the literature is in English; as a result proficiency in Dutch and English is required. We want to determine what kind of academic literacy is needed. In former studies (Pitkänen et al. 2012) students reported about coping with the language of instruction was a challenge that was demanding and problematic to some but not to all.

Data consist of quantitative data via questionnaires on the educational and linguistic background at first, and on study success later; qualitative data will be obtained via interviews with students and teaching staff. Finally, language proficiency data in written exams will be analyzed.

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