Towards a better understanding of learning and teaching in non-native languages in higher education

Tony John Jewels, Rozz Joan Albon


In this paper we propose a framework designed for more effective teaching of discipline content to non-native English speaking (non-NES) students, extending beyond the boundaries of language itself. While attempts to address the complex issues confronting international students often included language instruction for the learner, less emphasis has been placed on pedagogical issues confronting instructors delivering content to such students. Although students' competency in the language of instruction may still remain of vital importance, our research indicates that there are other factors that need to be addressed in providing competent instruction to non-NES students. This action research study conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with local Arab students as participants provided a rare opportunity to examine the challenge of teaching non-NES students from a homogeneous ethnic background, rather than consolidating findings from a single but diverse cohort of international students. The findings reflect the interrelationship between non-NES Arab university students and teachers, and positions this within an embedded component model for effective teaching. The conclusions may also have broader implications for teaching students of other ethnic backgrounds in other non-native speaking environments.


Pedagogy, international students, higher education, Arab, UAE, Middle East

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