The number of international students in Australian higher education is increasing and the enrolment of international students accounts for 43% in 2016 (Department of Education and Training, 2016). In specific, Chinese international students form the largest international student cohort and a number of courses including Early Childhood Education (ECE) witness the increasing enrolment from this cohort.
In ECE in Australia, coursework and professional experiences (practicums) commence from the first year of study. International students who graduate from ECE are eligible for the applications for skilled migration (ACECQA, 2017). Similar to international students enrolled in other courses, Chinese international students can encounter English language issues and cultural adjustment challenges (e.g.Borland & Pearce , 2002; Arkoudis & Doughney, 2016). Moreover, in ECE, they can experience additional challenges regarding their professional experiences which are under-studied. Their struggles and challenges can play an important role in determining their overall academic experience, reshaping their understanding towards ECE or even future professional choice.
In order to fill the gap, this qualitative case study is designed to investigate Chinese international pre-service teachers' experiences in ECE in Australia. I believe using Pierre Bourdieu's thinking tools: field, habitus and capital (Harker, Mahar, & Wilkes, 1990), can encourage the thinking beyond the existing policy discourses which exclusively focus on the quality of international (Chinese) EC graduates and their eligibility for migration. I argue that, in order to prepare this cohort, there requires insights in culture and characteristics of ECE context in Australia (field), Chinese international students' perceptions and dispositions (habitus) and the capital that they may employ to negotiate and maximise their experience in ECE.
This qualitative multiple-case study design includes focus group with pre-service teachers, interviews and document analysis of pre-service teachers' reflective practicum journals.