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Title:English—only when necessary: literacy practices of Korean undergraduate students at a 'global' university
Author(s):Kang, Yu-Kyung
Director of Research:Prior, Paul A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Prior, Paul A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hawisher, Gail; Mortensen, Peter; Abelmann, Nancy A.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
linguistic diversity
US higher education
study abroad
student organization
Abstract:Since the first significant appearance of international students in U.S. higher education in the early 1990s, English language literacy has been a central focus to literacy teachers. Despite the plethora of studies concerning students' second language proficiency, primarily aiming to enhance assimilation and acculturation into the U.S. academic disciplines, not many studies have looked beyond the pedagogical/instructional aspects within classroom settings. Under labels such as "international students," "ESL learners," or just "foreigners," the students have often been considered one large homogeneous group in need of homogeneous language support.To understand the limits of such a blanket approach and to avoid deficit ideologies that focus primarily on what international students lack in language and literacy, my study explores the past, present, and projected literacy experiences of South Korean undergraduate students with early study abroad (ESA or jogi yuhak1) experiences. I argue that the language and literacy practices of these undergraduate students (henceforth post-jogi yuhak students), with pre-college education in English speaking countries - including the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia - continuously develop within the larger global and local contexts. My study therefore complicates not only categories of transnational students but also approaches to pedagogy. This understanding of the complexity of multilingual backgrounds is crucial to the field of Rhetoric and Composition at a pivotal time when U.S. higher education institutions are experiencing an unprecedented increase in the number of international undergraduate students. This dissertation highlights the literacy and rhetorical practices of post-jogi yuhak students, a particular group of international undergraduate students who have been fairly unknown to non-Koreans on campus and to composition and rhetoric scholars despite their significant presence in U.S. higher education institutions. At the University of Illinois, the public higher education institution with the largest international student population, Korean students are the second largest international group and more than 80% of them have had jogi yuhak experience. My ethnographic project provides in-depth articulation of ways post-jogi yuhak students’ literacies and literate selves do and do not develop as they navigate college life. As my study demonstrates, post jogi yuhak students sought out a transnational educational experience early in their lives to learn English and become "global" citizens, yet at Illinois I claim that they are heavily engaged in localization of their "Koreanness" not only through their use of the Korean language but also through the institutionalized rebuilding Korean social practices. These practices ultimately help them ground their identities as college students. Their literacy and rhetorical practices are shaped not only by and within global and local politics but also within the everyday dynamics of a particular institutional climate and policies.
Issue Date:2016-04-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Yu-Kyung Kang
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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