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Reflections by International Students on volunteering placements & implications for language development, cultural awareness and employability David Finn.

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Presentation on theme: "Reflections by International Students on volunteering placements & implications for language development, cultural awareness and employability David Finn."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reflections by International Students on volunteering placements & implications for language development, cultural awareness and employability David Finn International Language Centre HLSS

2 Contents Literature Review The Study Findings Observations & Future Moves

3 Literature Review Previous studies have reported a positive relationship between the frequency of international students’ interactions with their local community and their adjustment to the host society (Toyokawa & Toyokawa 2002)

4 Previous Studies Japanese students’ engagement in extracurricular activity helps their adjustment to American campus life (Toyokawa & Toyokawa 2002). Students derive benefit from out-of-class activities such as volunteering (Astin 1984) Off-campus activities help international learners to develop support networks and social competence (Hayes and Lin 1994)

5 The Study - Aims What benefits does volunteering for international students have upon: English language Cultural awareness Personal Development

6 Study One 8 English Plus students, University of Wolverhampton, , Nationality: 2 Japan, 4 Cyprus, 1 Taiwan, 1 Kurdistan Placements: Organic Garden Centre (1); Secondary school (1); Walsall Sports Centre (2); Beacon Centre for the Blind (1); Dr Bernardo’s (2); Wolverhampton Housing Services (1) Data: Interviews after placement(s)

7 Study Two 21 English Plus students, University of Wolverhampton, Nationality: 15 Cyprus, 4 India, 2 China Placements: Oxfam (6); Lighthouse Club Buildings (4); Beacon Centre for the Blind (7); Dr Bernardo’s (2); Age Concern (1); RSPB (1) Data: Guided learner journal & Reflective survey

8 The Study – The Data Interviews, journals and surveys focused on the following: What did you gain linguistically from the placement? Did you have any conversations? Did you learn any new words? What difficulties did you face when spoken to? If so, why was this (pronunciation, slang, pace)? What did you learn about your organisation and/or British people and /or British society? What skills has the placement helped you to gain? (eg communication skills, time-management skills, etc)

9 Findings Communication gains Linguistic shortcomings when interacting Vocabulary gains (subject-specific and informal) Regional accents and slang Cultural awareness raised (NHS; job market; multicultural communities) Employability and skills transfer

10 Communication I made new friends and I have learnt about British life and culture. Working and meeting with British people helped me a lot to improve my English skills, my accent, my vocabulary and my speaking. Female (Cyprus) Placement: Dr Bernado’s charity shop, Wolverhampton English Plus progressed to Degree in Adult Nursing

11 Language …because if I’m speaking (with) outside people, their accent is very strong and fast so I could not understand. Also I am very shy to speaking other people. But staff speaking more slowly – so I comfortable to them and I can understand. Female (Taiwan) Placement: Coffee Shop for the Blind, Wolverhampton English Plus progressed to MSc Health Science

12 Vocabulary (subject-specific) I don’t know this kind of word – propagation. He (the supervisor) explained to me… it’s kind of gardening word. After that, I checked this word so now I understand. If I continue to work in this place, I can continue to understand new words which are useful for my study. Female (Japan) Placement: Organic Garden Centre, Wolverhampton English Plus progressed to MSc Environmental Science

13 Informal Language Day 2 - Thursday 22nd November 2007 Lamping - to relax or take it easy Take a bone - to get something to eat Day 3 - Monday 26th November 2007 Pants - of poor quality Day 4 - Thursday 29th November 2007 Cancer stick - cigarette East Bumblefuck - a location inconveniently far away Karena - a pretty girl Male (India) Placement: Beacon Centre for the Blind, Wolverhampton English Plus

14 Informal Language I worked with one boy during all the time. He taught me some slang and colloquial expressions. ‘Hang on’, ‘hold on’ (Mean) wait. ‘Oh, sugar!’ ‘Oh, sod!’ (Mean) bad feeling. ‘Beautiful smell, any?’ (any means isn’t it?). ‘Jesus Christ!’ (Means disappointment). Female (Japan) Placement: Organic Garden Centre, Wolverhampton English Plus progressed to MSc Environmental Science

15 Informal Language Sometimes I didn't find the words in my dictionary and the people drew what they meant. It was very funny. For instance I learnt that 'push chair' it is the baby carriage, 'daft' is the crazy, stupid, and 'spend a penny' mean I want to go to the toilet. Moreover, the idiomatic expressions like 'pillar box', 'call box' and 'sleeping policemen' were very interesting. Male (Cyprus) Placement: RSPB, Wolverhampton English Plus

16 Cultural Awareness Some disability (disabled people) don’t have money… how can they have money to live in the house? And she (the volunteer) told me ‘social service’ (new word). But I not very sure about this one. So if they have some accident, Government will help them get some money to their life. Female (Taiwan) Placement: Coffee Shop for the Blind, Wolverhampton English Plus progressed to MSc Health Science

17 Cultural Awareness I understood that they (the British) do not stop (working) until they finish and they also have a programme with the exact times of breaks. I saw that despite Cypriots are doing their jobs properly, they do not have an exact programme and they are not so focused on what they are doing. Female (Cyprus) Placement: Beacon Centre, Wolverhampton English Plus

18 Cultural Awareness We see cultural and political things. We see procedures in court. Other events with other communities. In Heath Town, different events… you can see from different cultures…cultural diversity. You can see Somalian and African culture. Male (Kurdistan) Placement: TLC Housing Services, Wolverhampton English Plus Progressed to MA Voluntary & Public Sector 2005-

19 Employability & Skills I learnt how to teach and coach teams or students and also to structure training and start warm-up exercises. Male (Cyprus) Placement: Walsall Sports Campus English Plus progressed to degree in Sports & Exercise Science

20 Employability & Skills I did learn some things – how to manage communication with people, how to treat them, how to refer them to some relevant places if you can’t help them yourself, how to use your personal initiative. I know something now about housing associations, rent, tenancy agreements, problems with landlord, flat rights, repairs by landlord… all these things are in relation to housing. Male (Kurdistan) Placement: TLC Housing Services, Wolverhampton English Plus Progressed to MA Voluntary & Public Sector 2005-

21 Employability & Skills To be honest, I am not a patient person because I learn to have everything whenever I want in my life, but this time I saw that it was different. I became a little more mature and patient to those situations. Female (Cyprus) Placement: Beacon Centre, Wolverhampton English Plus

22 Employability & Skills The most important learning for me is to concentrate and observe each and everything if we have to rush in the shop. I am also still learning many things like how to work under pressure, how to deal with the customer according to the situation and give the answers of their queries. Female (India) Placement: Oxfam, Wolverhampton English Plus

23 Employability & Skills I have many opportunities to see what kind of ideas can help us make money for children and the elder. I was able to talk with some customers and I learnt how to use the machine. Sometimes some customer asked my opinion about their clothes, I should give the right answer to help them choose their favourite. I got much useful experience and I like it. Female (China) Placement: Dr Bernardo’s, Wolverhampton English Plus

24 Observations - Benefits Language gains clear and transparent (eg informal language, slang, etc) Cultural differences acknowledged, regardless of nationality ‘On the job’ skills useful and transferable

25 Observations - Issues arising Employability and skills gains harder to measure Students not always able to make positive correlation between placement and personal development (Maiden & Kinsey 2006; University of Liverpool John Moores Learning Development Unit 2004) Maturity and motivation of learners significant (eg learner journals not always completed) Suitability of placements – requires further research

26 Future Moves RJs posted on weekly basis to lecturer – structured around language, culture and personal development. Shared / interactive element to journal writing (Summerfield 1987, in Henderson et al 2004) – could this be incorporated? Students asked to reflect on an aspect of their own experience and project how the learnt knowledge could be utilised in a possible future professional situation (Henderson et al 2004).


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