The geographies of the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) industry: international student mobility and homestay accommodation in Brighton and Hove
thesisposted on 20.05.2021, 14:01 by Charlotte Bolton
This thesis provides the first geographical investigation of the interconnections between international student mobility (ISM), the English as a foreign language (EFL) industry, and homestay student accommodation. In recent years, theorisations of ISM and research on mobile student groups in situ has burgeoned, however, often concerned with students engaged in Higher Education, the patterns, processes and dynamics of the EFL industry remain under-researched. Weaving together disparate scholarship and presenting empirical findings on ISM, student geographies, and the geographies of home, the thesis provides an original and timely contribution to geographical knowledges and contemporary policy-relevant issues, including the regulation of international student mobility, studentification, loneliness and child safeguarding.
Drawing on a case study of the EFL industry in Brighton and Hove, and employing a mixed-methods approach comprising GIS mapping; a questionnaire survey; and semi-structured interviews with EFL students, host families, ELT professionals and EFL industry stakeholders, the thesis presents some key findings. First, it is argued that capital theory and the concept of geographical imaginations are valuable frameworks for understanding how mobilities are sold and (re)produced within the EFL industry. Second, the findings expose the central role that governments and education agents play in regulating patterns of ISM, including (im)mobilising different social groups. It is contended that the unique structural conditions in which the UK’s EFL industry operates in has created a seasonal industry that requires homestay accommodation as an alternative form of student residence to that traditionally consumed by university students. Through an exploration of the motivations of the host family population, the role of EFL students in enabling financial flexibility, socialisation, and cultural capital accumulation for host families is identified. For EFL students, homestay accommodation offers intensified non-student social relationships and disrupts ‘traditional’ student-identity making processes. Through these analyses, a tension is highlighted between the role of homestay student accommodation as a form of care, and as commercialised service. Overall, whilst research on ISM, studenthood and studentification have provided useful frameworks for examining student identities and local student geographies thus far, it is argued that the conceptual boundaries should be extended to embrace the wider demographic, socio-cultural, and temporal contexts present within the EFL industry.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Geography and Environment