Differing perspectives of non-native speaker students' linguistic experiences on higher degree courses

Mairin HENNEBRY, Yuen Yi LO, Ernesto MACARO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


We report a small-scale study investigating the perceptions of postgraduate students who are non-native speakers of English and those of academic staff with regard to those students. Previous research has focused only on the former and identified a number of linguistic and cultural challenges these students face in adapting to Anglophone institution environments. A sample of 43 students in one department at a Russell Group university were surveyed and a sub-sample interviewed. Six members of academic staff were interviewed and some observed in their teaching. Findings suggest that, despite the high linguistic admission requirements set by the university, this group of students faced a range of difficulties in all four language skills but particularly in skills needed for oral interaction in seminars. Students and staff provided differing accounts of the source of these difficulties and students expressed a desire for better integration with native speaker students. There were also differing accounts regarding the amount of linguistic support students should receive, particularly with regard to proofreading written work. The study suggests a need for further research of this comparative kind potentially leading to recommendations for additional support for students and staff development. Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-230
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012



Hennebry, M., Lo, Y. Y., & Macaro, E. (2012). Differing perspectives of non-native speaker students' linguistic experiences on higher degree courses. Oxford Review of Education, 38(2), 209-230.


  • Higher education
  • International students
  • Linguistic challenges
  • Non-native speakers