BCM212 Research Project:
How Language Barriers Influence the Academic and Social Life
of Vietnamese International Undergraduate Students
at the University of Wollongong

(Scroll down for a complete list of blogpost)


My name is Duong Minh Anh Do (Mia), a student at the University of Wollongong. As part of my studies, I am conducting research on how language barriers influence the academic and social life of Vietnamese international students doing a bachelor at UOW.



Throughout and after their transition to Australia, Vietnamese international undergraduate students at the University of Wollongong are inevitably faced with language barriers, which profoundly influence their academic and social life. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, this research proposes some insights on the way in which language barriers trouble students academically and socially. I have found that speed and colloquialism are the most challenging aspects of Australian English for students, and despite being a major and supposedly reliable language test, the IELTS is rarely a guarantee for an easy transition to an English-speaking environment. Additionally, the supporting programmes offered by the University are found to be less satisfactory and less popular than expected. Also, there appears a dilemma as both groups of domestic students and international students frequently find it difficult to initiate communication with the other group. Reasons for Vietnamese students’ incompetence in conversational and academic English are also pinpointed, particularly the issues in English teaching and IELTS training in Vietnam, as well as the students’ own responsibilities.

The plan for my research is illustrated in the following Gantt chart:

bcm212 asm 02 gantt chart
Gantt chart: The Master Plan (click on image for larger size)


BLOG – The Specs of Mia

This blog is the main platform for me to update you on my progress, everything can be found here in this index page (or you can scroll up to the menu bar, hover your pointer over UOW and click on BCM212). Better yet, hit Follow button (found at the end of this page/at the top of the column on the right of the blog) and an email will be sent to you whenever a new post is up!

turn on mail noti
Remember though to turn on email notifications 🙂

You can also find me at dmad920@uowmail.edu.au and on my Twitter @thespecsofMia.

Up-to-date list of blogpost on BCM212 (Research Practices in Media and Communication)


I would like to thank Dr. Kate Bowles for her lectures and guidance on carrying out our projects, they have been eye-opening to me about the values and ethics a good researcher should possess and follow.

To my tutor, Dr. Renee Middlemost, I am grateful for her encouragement, constant support, timely feedback, and how understanding she has been during the past semester.

My appreciation goes to all survey respondents for their time, patience, and informative inputs.

I send my gratefulness to my interviewee – a Ph.D. student in Education at the University of Wollongong – for the engaging and meaningful conversation we had.

Finally, I wish to thank my friends in my BCM212 tutorial for their time and clever insights when participating in my focus group session.

There are not enough words to express my gratitude to these people; this research could never have been successful without them.

To the reader of The Specs, thank you for your support throughout this project!

All the best,


If you want to send me a private message, feel free to leave it here; it’s absolutely confidential. I’d be so grateful for your thoughts 🙂



University of Wollongong 2016, Fieldwork Risk Assessment Form, University of Wollongong, viewed 17 April 2017, <http://smah.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@ohs/documents/doc/uow082530.pdf>.

Carroll, R 2017, Getting Started, Bullet Journal, viewed 16 April 2017, <http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/>.


Research Methods & Values of a Researcher:

Bryman, A 2012, Social Research Methods, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Daedlow, K, Podhora, A, Winkelmann, M, Kopfmaller, J, Walz, R, & Helming, K 2016, ‘Socially responsible research processes for sustainability transformation: an integrated assessment framework’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, vol. 23, pp. 1-11.

Dugan, M n.d., Tolerating Ambiguity, knowinnovation, weblog post, viewed 1 June 2017, <http://knowinnovation.com/2013/04/tolerating-ambiguity/&gt;.

Duke University 2005, Guidelines for Conducting a Focus Group, Duke University, viewed 22 April 2017, <https://assessment.trinity.duke.edu/documents/How_to_Conduct_a_Focus_Group.pdf>.

Fern, EF 2001, Advanced Focus Group Research, Sage Publications, California.

Gillespie, BJ, Ruel, E & Wagner III, WE 2016, The Practice of Survey Research: Theory and Applications, SAGE, California.

Kvale, S 2007, Doing Interviews, SAGE, London.

Lim, L 2015, ‘Critical thinking, social education and the curriculum: foregrounding a social and relational epistemology’, Curriculum Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 4-23.

McCarthy, KD 2017, More than checking the empathy box, dscount, weblog post, 8 March, viewed 1 June 2017, <https://blog.dscout.com/martha-cotton-fjord-people-nerds&gt;.

McIlvenny, L 2013, ‘Critical and creative thinking in the new Australian curriculum part one’, Access, no. 1, p. 18.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 2016, Media Alliance Code of Ethics, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, viewed 23 April 2017, <https://www.meaa.org/resource-package/meaa-code-of-ethics/&gt;.

Tlley SA 1998, ‘Conducting Respectful Research: A Critique of Practice’, Canadian Journal of Education, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 316-328.


On the Issue:

Ata, A & Kostogriz, A (eds) 2015,  International Education and Cultural – Linguistic Experiences of International Students in Australia, Australian Academic Press, Queensland.

Carroll, J & Ryan, J (eds) 2005, Teaching international students: Improving learning for all, Routledge, New York.

Goldwasser, I 2006, Student study guide: a manual for international students, Pearson, NSW.

Gunawardena, H & Wilson, R 2012, International Students at University: Understanding the Student Experience, Peter Lang, Switzerland.

Jandt, FE 2013, An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community, Sage Publication, Thousand Oaks, California.

Kell, P & Vogl, G 2007 ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.

Kell, P & Vogl, G 2012, International students in the Asia Pacific : mobility, risks and global optimism, Springer, Dordrecht.

Leung, C & Street, BV (eds) 2012, English a changing medium for education, Multilingual Matters, Bristol.

Nieuwenhuysen, J & Snyder, I (eds) 2011, A home away from home?: International students in Australian and South African higher education, Monash University Publishing, Clayton, Victoria.

Wang, GT, & Park, K 2016, Student Research and Report Writing : From Topic Selection to the Complete Paper, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex.

White, SA 2003, Understanding Australia: A guide for international students, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Victoria.



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