7 ways you and your international students can learn from each other
US institutions have a long history of welcoming international students. During 2014-15, they attracted 974,926 of the globe’s 4.5 million international students. But the share of international students coming here has declined from 28 percent in 2001 to 19 percent in 2013.
Though US colleges still attract hundreds of thousands of international students, it’s worth considering what more can be done to create stronger, richer learning experiences for them. Here are seven ideas that could benefit teachers and students alike.
4. Give visual explanations
Visual learning is a powerful way to help international students improve their understanding. For some students, it’s difficult to transfer native reading and writing skills. At Claremont Graduate University, educators help international learners by visually reviewing student assignments in front of the entire class. This can give educators fascinating insights into how talented students from other cultures mentally build their analyses and arguments.
5. Explore cross-cultural themes
International students offer an unmissable opportunity for cross-cultural discussions in class or assignments. Ask them to explore academic concepts from their own perspectives. This will strengthen everyone’s learning experience, adding a global perspective that local students and textbooks can rarely provide. Cultures sometimes change fast: speaking with international students offers an immediate opportunity to investigate those changes without traveling.
6. Build confidence
The classroom should be a welcoming environment for discussion. To encourage and appreciate every contribution, avoid being overly critical. Invite discussion before highlighting the “best” academic theories. Offering this freedom can help students gain confidence and become more willing to participate.
Arranging class into smaller discussion groups can also give students greater freedom to voice ideas. In turn, you’ll get to know students more individually and better understand their learning needs. You can also discuss academic theories at a deeper level — which might just trigger fresh ideas for your own research.
7. Learn from your students
Instead of viewing teaching international students a series of challenges and obstacles, prize the opportunities for professional development they offer you. While educators are there to facilitate students’ learning, there are many opportunities to learn with and from your international classroom.
To earn the chance to study abroad, your students have been successful learners in their own countries. By discovering the practices and techniques they found effective at home — whether through conversation or surveys — you can improve and diversify your own teaching style. This may be the next step in the internationalization of educational innovation.