Reference Services to the International Adult Learner: Understanding the Barriers

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University Libraries


Internationals, Culture, Language, Barriers, Technology, Foreign-born, Immigrants


International adult learners include immigrants, nonimmigrants, and foreign-born residents of the United States who are non-native speakers of English and come from a variety of cultures. This population presents a challenge to delivery of reference services, but at the same time is extremely rewarding. Barriers to service are discussed. Linguistic barriers include selection of vocabulary, sentence structure, and various sociolinguistic considerations. The variety of the world's cultures and the impact on reference service are discussed in the context of cultural barriers. Technological barriers include the fast rate in technology change, information literacy, and the impact of the World Wide Web.

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