teaching international students .. can be stressful sometimes   Leave a comment

This morning I attended another interesting optional module of the course on developing teaching skills at UEA.  The lecture was about teaching international students.  I knew the lecturer, Chris Bishop, from a previous lecture on academic writing I attended more than seven months ago.  Chris Bishop works as a Learning Enhancement Tutor at UEA, he is really an excellent lecturer and he has also worked in other countries.  More information about his past jobs and his current activities at UEA can be found in the following link: https://portal.uea.ac.uk/dos/learning-enhancement/about/chris-bishop

So he is extremely experienced in teaching international students.  I really enjoyed the way he introduced the topic with questions, a short video and a brief open discussion.  I appreciated a lot his jokes and anecdotes as well.  We initially discussed the definition of international students in the UK.  If I understood it correctly students coming from the EU are not considered international, while a student coming from any other country outside the UK and the EU has the status of international.

Then, we focused on how to deal with the different kind of problems international might face in an education system different from the one of their country origin, from the marking scheme to the language difficulties.  When we were working in groups, it was kind of enlightening to deal with different possible scenarios a lecturer might encounter when teaching international students.  In every group each of us had to pick a card with a probable case of a student generating and/or ending up in some sort of trouble.  Some cases involved lack of effort in assessments, more or less appropriate and expensive presents for lecturers, students complaining loudly about a low mark etc.  “My student”, who had written an unnecessary two pages long introduction before hitting the topic at page 3, reminds me of someone I know quite well 🙂

We also familiarised with some numbers regarding the international community at UEA (about 3,000 people, the majority of them coming from China) and the size of the personal vocabulary of a non native English speaker (from 3,500 to 5,000) and by a native English speaker (from 20,000 to 40,000).

Finally we could choose the topic to let the lecturer close his lively and extremely entertaining lecture; we democratically chose to get a better understanding of the use of the language with international students.  It was very formative because we received many suggestions on how to deal with different more or less complicated situations.  Then, an enlightening slide showed us how stress and anxiety are inversely correlated to the language skills.  The joke about the expression of feelings while finding a parking spot was really funny.

I honestly thought that it would have been easier teaching international students, and it turned out I had also other misconceptions.. so it looks like that teaching international students can be stressful sometimes.

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Posted November 18, 2014 by andrecatte in career

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