A Personalised Autonomous Model for International Sojourners in Higher Education

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This paper introduces a Personalised Autonomous (PA) model as a new approach to addressing diverse language learning needs of international sojourners in higher education. It discusses its pedagogical efficacy based on both qualitative and quantitative data collected from more than 1,000 students from 2016 to 2019.

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Multilingual sojourners now make up a large proportion of the total student cohort at universities in Australia. Such high-level study in English poses challenges for many of them who speak English as an additional language. While universities offer a range of support services, in most cases these do not yet sufficiently address students’ diverse language needs. In response to this issue, I created an extracurricular program entitled Personalised English Language Enhancement (PELE) to apply a Personalised Autonomous (PA) model that I developed to help translation and interpreting students enhance their bilingual language proficiency (Kim, 2014, Kim and Jing 2019). The fundamental principle of the pedagogical model is to guide students to personalise their own learning independently. Students identify their own linguistic needs; develop a personal project to address their needs; implement the project and evaluate their own progress. The PELE program was piloted with about 300 students in 2016. The data showed it made a significant impact on students’ confidence in language skills, self-efficacy in learning, emotional well-being, as well as their sense of belonging. As a result, it became a credit-bearing course in 2017 and has been taken by more than 1000 students across faculties at all levels including undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and PhD. In this paper, I will explain the PA model including the learning cycle, course schedule and assessment tasks and then discuss its pedagogical efficacy based on the data collected from 2016 to 2019. Taking a mixed-methods approach, data collection included student entry and exit surveys in which more than several hundreds of students participated, students’ e-portfolios and focus groups. Findings clearly indicate that it is time for us to reconsider existing approaches to supporting international sojourners in the on-going development of their language skills. I hope that this paper leads to numerous dialogues for collaboration.

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University of New South Wales

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