Lost in transition? Perspectives on the transition to university language learning

Carolyn Stott, Ruth Fielding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


There is sometimes an assumption among language educators that students find the transition from school to university language learning a challenging process (see for example Busse and Walter, 2011; Chambers, 2014; Macaro and Wingate, 2004). In this research we set out to explore this assumption through a small-scale study of first-year language learners in one tertiary setting. The findings indicate that for many students the transition is smoother than anticipated and contrary to the assertions in some prior literature in this area. The differences between the secondary and tertiary sectors are undoubtedly significant. By acknowledging these differences, focussing on strategies to facilitate students' transition and suggesting ways to improve communication between secondary and tertiary sectors, this research highlights ways to facilitate successful language learning transition from the secondary to the tertiary sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • university language learning
  • university language teaching
  • transition
  • student experience

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