‘That is something that frightens me’: Media representation of international students and their English language proficiency in Australia

Bodis, A. (Speaker)

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    This paper focuses on the discursive construction of international students in terms of their English language proficiency as part of a greater issue of migration and language proficiency, which divides the population in Australia. On the one hand, Australian universities are becoming economically dependent on international students with education being one of the main exports for the country. On the other hand, there is a common view that these students, especially those coming from Asian countries, pose a threat to the social fabric and fail to “integrate” into the community. Adopting a Social Semiotic framework, the study examines an episode of a popular Australian current affairs program, Four Corners, titled Degrees of Deception (Besser & Cronau, 2015), which explores the issues of academic misconduct and low English language proficiency with relation to international students studying at Australian universities. The data also includes social media comments made to the given episode. Through Social Actor Analysis (Van Leeuwen, 1996) and a three-level multimodal analysis (KhosraviNik, 2010), the study explores discourses emerging through the representation of social actors, social action and argumentation. The findings show that the discourses of difference, blame and menace to Australian academic standards is dominant in the episode. The study has implications for the role of the media in shaping public perceptions of and attitudes towards international students. References Besser, L., & Cronau, P. (2015, 1 May 2016). Degrees of Deception. Four Corners. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2015/04/20/4217741.htm - transcript KhosraviNik, M. (2010). Actor descriptions, action attributions, and argumentation: Towards a systematization of CDA analytical categories in the representation of social groups. Critical Discourse Studies, 7(1), 55-72. doi:10.1080/17405900903453948 Van Leeuwen, T. (1996). The representation of social actors. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard & M. Couthard (Eds.), Texts and practices: readings in critical discourse analysis. London, New York: Routledge.
    Period2019
    Held atThe Annual conference of the American Association of Applied Linguistics
    Event typeConference
    LocationAtlanta, United States, Georgia