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Understanding the Choice of Chinese Graduate Students' English Learning Strategies in a Canadian Context



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This study, entitled “Understanding the Choice of Chinese Graduate Students’ English Learning Strategies in a Canadian Context,” explores the English learning strategies employed by six graduate students from China after their arrival in Canada, and documents and analyses changes in their learning strategies. These Chinese students encountered a change of language context because when in the unilingual Chinese environment they spoke Mandarin and upon their arrival in Canada, they were obligated to use English to communicate with Canadians and other international students. These students employed different English learning strategies in the Canadian context from what they were accustomed to in China. Thus, the researcher’s central objective in this study is to discover and document those changes in learning strategies and to investigate the factors accounting for the changes. In the process, the researcher aims to fill a gap in research exploring the learning strategies of Chinese students in foreign contexts, and create valuable new knowledge to benefit prospective Chinese international students, policy makers at the international universities, and English educators in China. The theoretical framework of this research is the qualitative co-constructivism paradigm along with narrative inquiry. Semi-structured interviews were used as the primary method of collecting data in this study, beginning with individual interviews, and followed by a focus group interview. The data collected through the interviews showed that the six participants’ reliance on the memory and cognitive strategies employed in China were abandoned in favor of utilization of compensation strategies and social strategies after moving to Canada. Furthermore, these participants were more open to making mistakes and taking risks during interactions with others in English. Moreover, these participants made these changes mainly because they desired to use the English-speaking environment in Canada to improve English proficiency. An important finding of my research is that their immersion in the English-speaking environment inspired these participants to employ different English learning strategies that led to significant improvement in their English proficiency.



Keywords: Chinese graduate students, language context, English learning strategies, improvement of English proficiency



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Administration


Educational Administration


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