Long-term English language learners

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    When I first started teaching in Australia, I had a Korean-Australian student in one of my undergraduate classes who sounded like most of the other students in my class, like a native speaker of Australian-English. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she had been born in Australia but had grown up leading a transnational life with frequent moves back and forth between Australia and Korea. At home she spoke Korean with her family and at school she spoke English. In Australia she had attended mainstream schools in English and when they had been in Korea she didn’t go to school at all or attended international schools with English as the medium of instruction. The perfect way to raise a bilingual child, you might think. I thought so until I saw her first written assignment. Her academic literacy was oddly different from that of all the other students: in comparison to the native speakers (with whom I’d mentally categorized her on the basis of her spoken English), her grammar was shaky, and in comparison to the overseas ESL students her register vacillated between extreme formality and informality, and all shades of style in between. She also had trouble formulating a coherent argument, which is not that uncommon, but which was surprising on the basis of her oral performance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationLanguage on the move
    PublisherLanguage on the move
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2011

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    • 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
    • 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)


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