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Tips for Working with International Students

Promote Listening Comprehension

  • Slow down - enunciate carefully so that words are not run together. 
  • Provide concrete examples for any difficult concepts. 
  • Use visual aids. 
  • Provide an outline of the lecture for students to follow or use for note taking. 
  • Be aware that cultural references (including most jokes) will not only not be understood, but will make international students feel even more like outsiders. 

Promote Student Speech in Class

  • Encourage students to speak. 
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice speaking with a partner or in a small group before speaking to the entire class. 
  • If possible, provide a list of discussion topics and questions before the day of class. 
  • Because international students often sit together in class, it may be beneficial to assign students to mixed (international and domestic) working groups who they sit next to and collaborate with during class. Form the groups yourself, and make them intercultural. 
  • Don't ignore international students. 

Working with Language Learners' Writing

  • For any written assignment, provide an explicit set of instructions for handout or download. 
  • Provide at least one example of a final product (the same or similar assignment) and discuss it carefully in class. 
  • Emphasize the importance of budgeting time in the writing process. 
  • When reading and commenting on papers, focus on content. 
  • Realize that rhetorical structure is not a universal - students may need help organizing the paper the way you want it, but this may not be a sign that they do not understand the content. 
  • Try not to be distracted by surface errors and mistakes with articles, prepositions, punctuation, spelling, and grammar that do not obscure meaning. This is not to say that these misuses are ok, but that they should not be of primary importance. 
  • Know a little about morphology. Many languages either lack prefixes and suffixes entirely (Chinese) or use them quite differently (Spanish). 
  • It bears repeating that knowledge of English does not correlate to intelligence or potential. 
  • Encourage use of the Writing Center, but teach students how to use it in productive ways such as taking a draft of your paper or a list of topics for review with a tutor. 

Help Students Adjust to UK's Academic Culture

  • Allow international students to audio record classes. 
  • Discourage note taking in the first language 
  • Provide structure for group work by clarifying roles such as organizer, recorder, questioner, encourager, etc. to the class (or even assigning them to individuals). 
  • Compile a list of relevant background information that you expect domestic students to bring to a class but that international students might not. 
  • If a student is habitually tardy, please meet with this student (or refer him or her to UKIC) to discuss his or her reasons for tardiness and the significance of what the student is missing during the beginning of class. 
  • Emphasize to students both the percentage of the final grade that assignments are worth and a suggested amount of time that students should use to complete the work. 
  • Encourage students to teach each other about their cultures so that they can understand the cultural implications or background of what is going on. 
  • Recognize factors in poor performance that might be attached to stress, such as an unwillingness to admit difficulty to their family back home, a scholarship that doesn't allow flexibility in changing a major, culture shock or unfamiliarity with campus resources or U.S. academic culture. 
  • Help international students to understand that U.S. universities often require assignments more often rather than just 1-2 exams in an entire semester. 
  • Discourage word for word memorization of content whenever possible unless it's simply to learn vocabulary terms. International students may be from academic cultures where memorization is highly valued while critical and independent thinking is much more valuable in a U.S. academic culture.

Considerations for Teaching International Distance Learning Students