Being Connected: Academic, Social, and Linguistic Integration of International Students
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In order to comfortably and effectively function in U.S. classrooms, both international students and domestic students benefit from the development of interactive and intercultural communication skills. At Purdue University, a large, public, R1 institution with a substantial international population, the internationalization of the student body is a priority. To examine the relationship between academic and social integration of international and domestic students on campus, international (ESL) undergraduate students (L2 English, n=253) from the Purdue Language and Cultural Exchange Program (PLaCE), and domestic undergraduate students (L1 English n=50) from the first-year composition program (ICaP), participated in a voluntary survey. The framework for investigating students’ interaction with peers and teachers was derived from Severiens and Wolff (2008). Four aspects of new, incoming students’ adaptation (Global Perspective, Intercultural Competence, Acculturation Mode, and Willingness to Communicate) were addressed by the survey. Although there were similarities between international and domestic students, the results revealed international students had more opportunities to interact with peers from diverse language backgrounds in formal academic contexts, including classroom activities, peer-group work in first-year programs and language programs. However, in informal, social contexts, neither international nor domestic students took advantage of opportunities to interact with each other. The tendency to prefer social interactions with co-nationals may contribute to social isolation and limited integration of international and domestic students within broader social contexts outside of classrooms. Yet, rather than resisting this trend, instructors and administrators might enhance opportunities for interaction in academic contexts where both groups are most willing to participate. Findings from this study can contribute to the development of first-year programs that provide realistic solutions for the enhanced internationalization of both domestic and international students on campus.