Learner Identity- Managing Transitions

Here is how Caroline Burns and Jane Carnaffan, both lecturers at Northumbria University, describe their talk on themes of internationalisation at home, learner identity and transitions.

Research on International students has tended to focus on their social, cultural and academic adjustment to the new environment. Academics are often reported to find teaching International students challenging as they are often assumed to be lacking in key skills, such as critical evaluation associated with a ‘Western’ education. Rather than challenging this deficit approach, EAP practice is generally geared towards facilitating the process of adjustment by teaching students what is expected of them on their future programmes and giving them practice in the skills they are thought to need. As such, EAP research is largely instrumental in in approach: rarely do we look beyond the institutional goals to consider our role in Internationalisation, which has undergone rapid and far reaching change in recent years, driven by neoliberal free market economics and the policy of funding the expansion of UK Higher Education based on income from International students of successive British governments from Blair onwards. As teachers, we are aware of global inequalities, and probably of the concept of linguistic imperialism (Phillipson, 1992), but how to change ‘the way things are’ in our curricula and class-rooms is not clear.

Internationalisation at Home (Crowther et al 2003) seeks to promote an international experience for all students based on equality and reciprocity within a broader framework of diversity and equality (Jones and Killick, 2013). Within this movement, global citizenship, albeit a complex and contested concept, offers an alternative paradigm with a theoretical underpinning and an ethical purpose in which to locate the EAP research and practice. Furthermore it offers a theoretical framework to explore the development of a global citizenship identity, fitting for graduates of the 21st  century, encompassing a range of knowledge, skills, attitudes but also an ethical stance towards oneself, others and the world and which could support transitions to within and beyond education.


Crowther, P., Joris, M., Otten, B., Nilsson, H., Teekens, H. and Wächter, B. (2000) ‘Internationalisation at Home: A Position Paper’. Amsterdam: European Association for International Education.

Jones, E. And  Killick, D (2013) ‘Graduate Attributes and the Internationalized Curriculum: Embedding a Global Outlook in Disciplinary Learning Outcomes’.  Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 17(2), p.165-182.

Phillipson, R. (1992) Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: OUP.


The presentation slides can be accessed here [PDF].

Jane Carnaffan’s extended list of references can be found here [PDF].


caroline-burnsCaroline Burns (B.A. Hons Spanish with French, P.G.C.E., MA Applied Linguistics) has been Lecturer of Spanish and English for Academic Purposes at Northumbria University since 2002. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies at Newcastle University, focussing on the Internationalisation of UK Higher Education and how ‘home’ students narrate their experience of this.

Dr Jane Carnaffan is a Lecturer in English for Academic Purposes at Northumbria University and is currently teaching courses on Academic Writing and Study Skills. Prior to teaching at Northumbria, she taught English language internationally (in Spain, Paraguay, Bulgaria and Japan). Her research interests include widening participation and internationalisation of university education in the UK.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s