Why Do International Students Avoid Communicating with Americans?

  • I-Ching Wang Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
  • Janet N. Ahn William Paterson University, United States
  • Hyojin J. Kim Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
  • Xiaodong Lin-Siegler Teachers College, Columbia University, United States
Keywords: communication, ESL, foreign accent, intercultural competence, perceived bias

Abstract

We explore how the communication concerns of non-native English speakers (NNS) and Americans relate to their perceptions of each other and decisions to interact. NNS identified their concerns in communicating with Americans, the perceived causes of their concerns, and the strategies they would employ to address these concerns. Americans noted their perceptions of NNS’ (heavy and mild) accents and identified factors that influence their perceptions of NNS and decisions to communicate with NNS. Results revealed that the more NNS attribute their communication concerns to Americans’ bias, the more likely they would avoid interacting with Americans. Results also suggested that Americans show a more favorable attitude toward mild accent NNS. We discuss the implications these findings have for international education and future research.

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Author Biographies

I-Ching Wang, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

I-CHING WANG, Ed.D., is an instructional designer. She earned her Ed.D. in Instructional Technology & Media from Teachers College, Columbia University and M.S.Ed. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include intercultural communication, motivation, and second language acquisition. Specifically, she investigates how social-psychological interventions (attributional retraining and self-affirmation) can be employed to improve ESL learners’ communication with native English speakers. 

Janet N. Ahn, William Paterson University, United States

JANET N. AHN, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at William Paterson University. She earned both her Ph.D. and M.A. in Social Psychology from New York University. Broadly, her research interests are motivation and self-regulation. Specifically, she examines the interpersonal aspects of goal pursuit through projection, transference, and stereotyping in various settings, such as in education, in close relationships, and social interactions. 

Hyojin J. Kim, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

HYOJIN J. KIM, M.A., is a graduate student of Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her studies in the Department of Human Development with the emphasis in Cognitive Studies in Education. She is a current administrator at an international school in Dallas, Texas. She has been an avid researcher and an educator with the interest in facilitating the adjustment of international students in the secondary education in the United States. 

Xiaodong Lin-Siegler, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

XIAODONG LIN-SIEGLER, Ph.D., is a faculty in Cognitive Science in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds Ph.D. in Instructional psychology and Computer Education from Purdue University. She
studies how history of scientists can be used to motivate students to solve challenging problems in schools. She also studies barriers to international students'learning in the United States and ways to remove these barriers. Her works have appeared in over 30 news media globally, including CBS.com News, PBS Kids, NPR Morning News Edition, Science, New York Times, Quartz magazine, BBC News, Australia Network News, News India, and China’s People’s Daily. 

Published
2018-07-01
How to Cite
Wang, I.-C., Ahn, J. N., Kim, H. J., & Lin-Siegler, X. (2018). Why Do International Students Avoid Communicating with Americans?. Journal of International Students, 7(3), 555-582. Retrieved from https://www.ojed.org/index.php/jis/article/view/288
Section
Research Articles