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International Students in Your Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities for a Global MSU Rick O’Connor, Ph.D., Director Cherí Ladd LeCain, M.A., Director.

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Presentation on theme: "International Students in Your Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities for a Global MSU Rick O’Connor, Ph.D., Director Cherí Ladd LeCain, M.A., Director."— Presentation transcript:

1 International Students in Your Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities for a Global MSU Rick O’Connor, Ph.D., Director Cherí Ladd LeCain, M.A., Director of Studies A.C.E. Language Institute February 11, 2010 MSU Teaching and Learning Committee Faculty Luncheon

2 A.C.E. Language Institute An intensive academic English program for non- native speakers of English Operated by Associates in Cultural Exchange (formerly American Cultural Exchange) in Seattle At MSU since 1994

3 A.C.E. Language Institute

4 Outline I.Statistics on International Students at MSU II.Opportunities in the Classroom III.Challenges in the Classroom IV.Addressing the Challenges: Discussion and Tips from Real Students V.Resources VI.Q & A

5 International Students at MSU Approximately 500 students from 74 different countries (85 of the 500 students at A.C.E.) Largest groups: – China (89) – India (60) – Saudi Arabia (52) – Turkey (40) – Japan (24) – Canada (23) – Kazakhstan (16)

6 Encouraging int’l student enrollment supports goals in MSU Five-Year Vision FY Student body: – “The number of international students will increase.” – “The student body will be more diverse than it is today.” Faculty: – “The faculty will have a global perspective on their disciplines and will be active participants in the international development of their fields. The University will increasingly attract a strong and diverse faculty drawn from the best educators, scholars, and researchers throughout the world.” Curriculum: – “Students will have increasing opportunities to participate in international experiences and participation in education abroad programs will increase. Additional opportunities will be offered for students to learn critical languages and take internationally focused courses.” Partnerships, Outreach and Alumni: – “MSU will develop expanded international partnerships in key countries and regions in order to provide study abroad and exchange opportunities for students and faculty, to increase international diversity on the MSU campus, and to promote international research collaboration.”

7 Did you know... Int’l students paid $6.9 million to MSU in tuition and fees in FY MSU int’l students and their families paid another $6.8 million in living expenses ( ) Int’l students across Montana contributed $28, 437,000 to the state economy ( ) (NAFSA, Association of Int’l Educators, Open Doors)

8 Opportunities Add fresh ideas and diverse perspectives to classroom Bring expertise from their countries Help peers develop greater global competence Do outreach, give presentations, and/or work in the public schools and community Provide opportunities for cross-cultural friendships and/or future int’l collaboration

9 Opportunities, cont’d. Provide opportunities for Americans to have a conversation partner, or be a host family or friendship family May inspire American students to study abroad Especially benefit those studying foreign languages or global studies Help break down negative stereotypes International Street Food Bazaar!

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11 And then, the challenges... I. Cultural differences II. Linguistic pitfalls

12 Different Cultural Perspectives on… Plagiarism Rhetorical patterns in writing Sharing work (= helping a friend or cheating?) Disagreeing with a professor or author Speaking up in class “Interrupting” a professor in her/his office

13 Strategies to Address Plagiarism Provide examples of correct citation in your field. Discuss seriousness of plagiarism in the U.S. (See Dean of Students Code of Conduct) Put your policies about plagiarism on your syllabus.

14 Strategies to Address Different Rhetorical Patterns in Writing Understand there are different rhetorical styles in other cultures (e.g., main point might be made at the end of an essay) Make your expectations clear (in both written and oral form) – Thesis statement (claim) in the introduction? – Fact/opinion, or both? – Opinion in the conclusion only?

15 Typical Academic Skill Strengths and Weaknesses, by Cultural Group Critical thinking skills – Experienced: Russian and former Soviet Republic, European, Latin American – Less experienced: Chinese, Japanese Memorization – Experienced : Chinese, Japanese, Korean Essay tests – Experienced: Russian and former Soviet Republic, European – Less experienced: Saudi, Japanese Multiple choice tests – Experienced: Japanese, Chinese, Korean – Less experienced: Russian and former Soviet Republic, Saudi

16 Linguistic Issues Vocabulary limitations Lack of knowledge of idioms Lack of grammatical control Pronunciation

17 Typical Strengths & Challenges (Language Skills) for Specific Cultural Groups: Chinese: – Strengths: reading, vocabulary – Challenges: speaking, writing, grammar Indian: – Strengths: reading, writing, listening, speaking – Challenges: “American” pronunciation and vocabulary Arab: – Strengths: speaking and listening – Challenges: reading and writing

18 Typical Strengths and Challenges, cont’d. Kazakh (and former Soviet Republic students): – Strengths: all skill areas Turkish: – Strengths: speaking, writing – Challenges: reading, grammar Japanese: – Strengths: reading, grammar – Challenges: writing, speaking

19 Typical Strengths & Challenges, Cont’d. Korean: – Strengths: vocabulary, reading, writing – Challenges: speaking, pronunciation

20 Strategies in Lecturing Understand that int’ll students may not get references to pop culture or jargon/slang Allow int’l students longer time to formulate oral responses to your questions Try to include int’l content and case studies Ask int’l students for examples from their countries (ideally with advance notice!)

21 (Strategies in Lecturing, cont’d.) Avoid asking the class a question as a whole; direct the question Have students paraphrase questions and answers in class to assure comprehension Maximize “sign-posting” language

22 Strategies in Small Group Participation Get to know student names. Create situations early in the semester for int’l and domestic Ss to interact and get to know each other. Make expectations about participation clear. Do not assume familiarity with the format.

23 Strategies in Small Group Participation, cont’d. Ask Ss to prepare key questions and readings ahead of time. Ask Ss how an issue would be considered from their experiences, (which may or may not represent views from their culture). Cultivate respectful and non-threatening environment. Give all students roles/tasks in the group (leader, timekeeper, recorder, “gadfly,” etc.)

24 Comments from Real Students! (Summary of survey) Cultural Sensitivity: I’m glad to answer questions about my country; just make sure you have the right country! Professors/students shouldn’t assume students are having a better life while being in the U.S. just because they come from a developing country. Referring to the U.S. as “America” might offend some Latin Americans.

25 Tips, cont’d. (cultural sensitivity) People from my country don’t like to talk about politics (or religion) or our problems but enjoy talking about our country’s rich cultural history. Treat international students as you would treat Americans. I like it when professors ask for cross-cultural comparisons about my country and the U.S.

26 Tips, cont’d. Speaking more slowly: I want my professors to speak more clearly and slowly. I felt uncomfortable or patronized if a professor spoke extra slowly for me.

27 Tips, cont’d. Availability of Lecture Notes: Having lecture notes available to all students after lecture is helpful (but not with any special conditions for international students.) Lecture notes BEFORE the lecture would be helpful in listening to the lecture! (or, at least, knowing the assigned readings)

28 Tips, cont’d. Group work in class: – helpful to have the questions in advance (for everyone) so we have time to think about them Extra writing/editing help? – Encouraging students to read more will help them write better. – Professors can teach us to be self-sufficient by telling about on-campus writing resources. – Extra help is good.

29 Tips, cont’d. Extra help/attention? – It's better to give a chance to foreign students to prove themselves, and then offer help, but offering help in advance implies a predisposition of their (inferior) skills. – Some students can take advantage of the situation if a professor gives special treatment. – Last advice to professors, don't give anything for free. If there is a special treatment, make them do some extra work to earn that. :-)

30 Resources Office of International Programs – Foreign Student Advising – Int’l Student and Scholar Services – Peer mentors – Global Culture Club – Friendship families – CultureGrams A.C.E. Language Institute – English as a Second Language courses – International Teaching Assistant training courses – Institutional TOEFL and SPEAK tests – Conversation Partner program – Host family program Writing Center (now employs 2 A.C.E. Language Institute teachers)

31 A.C.E. Language Institute Main Office: 1106 S. 6 th Street, Bozeman


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