Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD

First Reader

Suresh Appavoo, EdD

Second Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD


Mandarin speaking, mainland Chinese secondary students enrolled in grades nine through twelve make up almost 50% of America's international student population (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2015). According to the literature, these students face unique challenges in their education: learning core subjects in a non-native language before they have fully grasped the language, and sitting in classes that are taught by teachers with virtually no training in making the content comprehensible for international students. The purpose of this qualitative study is to acquire an in-depth understanding of the challenges that Mandarin speaking, mainland Chinese, international secondary students face in their learning during their first year at one suburban California private school which established an international student program in 2007. The researcher conducted personal interviews with nine Mandarin speaking, mainland Chinese international secondary students in grades seven through 11 who were in their first year attending this private school. Each participant answered 20 questions regarding the perceived challenges they face on a daily basis in this school as they attend mainstream classes with their native English speaking peers. The findings showed that the participants faced challenges in understanding the teacher in mainstream classes, learning difficult content in mainstream classes while still learning English, adjusting to a different educational system and culture, and making friends with the American students at school.

Included in

Education Commons