‘Better safe than sorry’: Preparing for overseas lives through learning from predecessors’ narratives
‘One day a year ago, I was browsing the website of dissertation prize winners after I decided to be a part of the MA TEFL program. I hoped that more Chinese names would appear on the list as we could make a difference by concentration as well as confidence. After receiving the wonderful news of being one of the three winners, I was so flattered and honoured. Though it was a small achievement in the academic career, the prize gave me the opportunity to make use of knowledge to make a contribution to what I am interested in. However, without the guidance of my TEFL tutors, I could never achieve it. I would love to express my appreciation again to all the people who supported me in many ways during this year. The happy ending of MA TEFL will be a new start for my career in the future.’
This study investigates the intercultural challenges faced by Chinese international students studying in the UK. Using in-depth interviews with three participants, the research shows how the students’ rich and personal narratives can be exploited for language teaching preparation in the study abroad experience. It argues that the grounding in intercultural communication should be used to prepare Chinese students before they depart for a new country and illustrates how narratives can be utilized for this purpose. The research design made use of open narrative interviews with 3 Chinese international students who were the researcher’s close friends. After following ethical guidance, the researcher used these close relationships to explore participants’ experiences and emotions about living in the UK. Each interview was then analysed using narrative analysis and positioning theory. Results reveal narratives rich in intercultural learning and full of potential material for preparing new arrivals.