Notes from the Student Caring Podcast for Professors

Teaching International Students

Our research and reference source for this podcast is from the University of Virginia: Strategies For Teaching International Students

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General Principles

  • Be explicit about your expectations and try to give examples or model what you are talking about.
  • Focus on meaning first and grammar and style later.
  • Stress fluency in communication along with correctness.
  • Try not to foster the student’s fear of errors.
  • Reinforce the student’s strengths while explaining what he/she still needs to work on.
  • Recognize that students may be differently acculturated to classroom situations.
  • Don’t assume that a student who looks “foreign” is an international student or that one who exhibits writing difficulties is necessarily a non-native speaker.

In the Classroom:

When students make unclear remarks, paraphrase them before building on them (“so you are saying that . . .?”). This gives such students an opportunity to correct you if you have not understood what was meant; other students also understand the comment and so are less likely to ignore it. To avoid singling out international students, apply this technique to American students’ comments as well.

Make Sure Students Understand Directions and Assignments.

Students from many cultures-and many individuals-believe it is polite to nod in response to someone’s words. When such a nod masks lack of comprehension, difficulties arise. If students have misunderstood previous directions, check with them individually after class about future assignments. Instead of asking, “Do you understand this assignment?” say, “Tell me what you need to do for Wednesday.” You can clarify directions for all students by having a volunteer rephrase them during class.

Write it Down!

Use visual aids and write down key terms during lectures or while giving directions. This will help non-native speakers significantly with their comprehension of the material.

Let students who hesitate to speak in class contribute first in small groups or through electronic discussion groups on Instructional Toolkit.
For students who hesitate to speak on the spur of the moment, provide assignments or questions that the student can prepare beforehand. To avoid favoritism, you can give these assignments or questions to all students.

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Email:  General Information   |   Prof. David C. Pecoraro

Thank you!

Daniel & David

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SC 169 Teaching International Students

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