Multilingual university students’ perceived English proficiency, intelligibility and participation

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This paper reports on 137 multilingual students enrolled at 14 English speaking Australian universities who completed a 27-item online survey investigating the relationship between perceived English proficiency, intelligibility, and their academic, social and vocational participation. Open-ended responses described strategies used to enhance spoken English. Participants came from 44 countries and spoke 49 home languages. Self-ratings of English communication skills were significantly affected by age, English experience, number of languages spoken and home language. Participants reported spoken English proficiency impacted participation; however, results highlighted lack of awareness of intelligibility as an essential component of spoken language proficiency. Although environmental factors (e.g. more time using English in conversations) were associated with higher self-ratings of proficiency, participants preferred using individual strategies (e.g. listening/repeating) to support English intelligibility rather than social interactions with native speakers. The results demonstrate the importance of conversation practice in language learning to increase proficiency and confidence, as well as participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-170
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 08 Jul 2021

Grant Number

  • DP180102848


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