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Abstract

Abstract

The number of international students arriving in Canada is increasing annually, with students from China accounting for the highest number. Grounded in sociocultural theories of second language learning, identity, investment and Community of Practice (CoP), this paper presents selected findings from a narrative study investigating the experiences of Chinese international students preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests in Canada. Based on their own accounts of English learning before and after coming to Vancouver, this paper finds that the participants recognized the capital and power of English and foreign qualifications, and regarded international education as a sanctuary from examinations in China. By comparing their current learning in different settings, they expressed confusion about engaging/disengaging in different communities, and about their past expectations, current experiences as well as future possibilities. This paper hopes to draw the attention of stakeholders (institutions and test issuing organizations) to the more nuanced challenges that international students encounter so that better support can be provided to international students learning English for academic purposes.

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