An investigation into the suitability of using overt acculturation training techniques as the organising framework of 'English for academic purposes' courses for Chinese students coming to study in higher education in the UK
International students moving to enter Higher Education in other cultures of learning may require more than familiarity with another language. Different discourse communities demand that students demonstrate knowledge in different ways and use specific text types and genres. Currently EAP courses intended to prepare international students for participation in Higher Education in the UK focus on the observable features of texts and related study skills which are revealed by a process of Needs Analysis. These linguistic and academic behaviours, however, are based on epistemological assumptions concerning what counts as valid knowledge and what are deemed to be appropriate approaches to knowledge, and these assumptions -- as with other cultural factors -- are often unanalysed and unstated. Ethnographic investigation into UK Higher Education can reveal the values of stakeholders such as academic staff and quality assurance agencies, and these underlying beliefs can then be explored in preparation courses by using methods of Intercultural Training to expose not just the surface features of this culture but also the underlying epistemology. A quantitative survey and several methods of qualitative investigation based on reflective narrative accounts and interviews were used to investigate the success of one such course. Ethical and pragmatic constraints limited the ability to use true experimental conditions in this project, however the findings do indicate that such courses can be designed and suggest that students participating on them may arrive at a more elaborate understanding of the expectations placed on them during the crucial first few months of their courses, and that this may ease their adaptation as they struggle to take on new identities.