Cross-contextual Academic Reading Difficulties: An Exploratory Case Study of Two EFL Doctoral Students

Beibei Song


This exploratory case study aims to investigate two Chinese Mainland doctoral students’ cross-contextual academic reading difficulties in a northern public Taiwanese university. Drawing on Engeström’s (1987) activity theory, this study attempts to address the research question: Why do Chinese Mainland students have academic reading difficulties upon first arrival in Taiwan? Data were collected through oral narratives, semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, frequent informal conversations and relevant documents for data triangulation. The results showed that participants’ academic reading difficulties were associated with different norms and conventions between Chinese Mainland and Taiwanese academic contexts. Described within two activity systems, the major reasons underlying were attributed to the changed identities, different mediations, goals and distinctive communities where academic rules and teachers’ roles differed significantly. Pedagogical implications of institutions, instructors and students were provided.

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