Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. William Kyle


Dr. Suzanne Hendrickson

Dr. Hung Gay Fung

Dr. Sujin Kim


This study addresses the process of oral academic socialization that learners of a second language and culture undergo to succeed in disciplinary graduate courses. The participants were students from Mainland China and Taiwan pursuing an International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Guided by social constructivist and language socialization theories, this ethnographic case study investigated factors that facilitated oral academic discourse socialization of speakers of Chinese. A group of eight IMBA Chinese and Taiwanese students studied their first academic year in their home country before transferring to study abroad in the U.S. to complete their graduate degree. After the beginning of their second semester of studies in the U.S., they shared their experience of adapting to oral academic discourse in the classroom and workplace over a period of eight months. The participants reflected on sociocultural differences in education, challenges they encountered, and coping strategies in their disciplinary studies through a second language and culture. Following the academic coursework, five of the same participants began an internship in St. Louis, of which they shared their challenges and strategies working in a second language and culture. They also reflected on how these experiences compared to their academic classes. Data were derived from focus groups, individual interviews, reflective journals, and field notes from class observations. Drawing on data analysis rooted in grounded theory, findings from transcripts and notes were triangulated. Open and axial coding were used to identify features and themes of the socialization process in academic and professional settings.