Working With International Students: 11 Tips For Faculty

Group of people sitting on white mat in a grass field: Working with international students
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International students could mean different things to different people; they may be transfer students with heavy accents or the scholarship guys with interesting dress codes. If you are together with an international student in a class or a lecture hall,  you would agree that no one has ever taught you what working with international students looks like. However, you still need to love and work with them regardless.

I believe admitting international students into school programs has gone beyond increasing tuition revenue. Now, some of the many reasons for admission include allowing competitive diversity, building a ‘world view’ of sustainable development goals, or enriching the cultural approaches of the school.

Regardless of the purpose of admission, in every school faculty, international students should be treated with consideration by colleagues and lecturers alike. 

In this article, I will explore 11 tips that will help you when working with international students.

11 Great Tips That Will Help You When Working With International Students

Don’t make assumptions when working with international students

The human brain generally tries to identify the ability or character of an individual from afar, i.e., without getting to know them. As a faculty professor, lab technician, or lecturer, you shouldn’t try to assume anything. 

Don’t assume that a difficult accent is the same as difficulty in expression or producing quality work. Also, don’t assume that cultural differences will make it impossible for the students to understand examples or illustrations.

In contrast, getting close to the international students may allow you to understand how bright the students are. Sometimes, the cultural diversity they provide may serve as a better illustrative comparison.

Develop a parent program

A parent program can be petty and look less significant. However, this could be a morale-boosting program when working with international students and will form a kind of bond with the parents, students, and the institution.

Parent programs help to keep parents and students abreast of happenings on campus. 

Learn their names

There is nothing that can endear you to international students like learning their names. Unfortunately, many faculty lecturers do not feel it’s worth it. They’d instead prefer ‘Hey!’, ‘project student’ and the not-so-funny nicknames.

Avoiding an international student’s name because of difficulty pronouncing it is like not withdrawing money from an ATM because you don’t like the ATM light.

Apart from learning their names, you can go as far as learning a few words in their indigenous language. The sense of belonging that can arise from that singular act can keep you in their hearts like forever.

Don’t bring up unnecessary chatters

First, you should consider it a great privilege for international students to walk up to you. This is a sign you are doing a good job. Many times, International students find it unnecessary to talk to lecturers who have not made an effort to do the same.

Suppose one of these students appreciates you and thereby walks up to you for constructive criticism, correction and help. The last things you should say are statements like ‘considering this is not your first language, your scores are okay’, ‘the last international students from your country scored way less’ or ‘I don’t expect much for your first year.’

These sentences may look very reasonable, but they are very insensitive.

Choose group tasks members wisely

Whenever you assign group projects or tasks, ensure you distribute the members evenly and wisely.

It is normal for students to always choose who they are comfortable with or someone with a decent accent that at least they can hear and understand. However, the reasoning of the lecturer must be very different from the students. 

If you want to help international students integrate well, you need to consider mixing them with other students.

Don’t generalize all international students

This is a crucial point to note working with international students.

Apart from documenting them in the same place, most international students, even with the same skin colour, have nothing in common.

Therefore, you need to understand that international students are different based on a whole lot of things, including Political climate, cultural differences, visa restrictions, and may not find it easy to walk out of difficult departmental situations. They are in different positions and have different ways of addressing issues.

A reminder- ‘Africa’ is not a country, and not all east Asians are Chinese.   A statement like this is a common mistake by Europeans. They often call students from a country with names or titles meant for a continent. Although not all, most international students find matters like this very insulting. 

Improve their language 

It is the job of the faculty administration and lecturers, and students to help international students bridge the language gap.

Making fun of incorrectly pronounced words is a turn-off. Staff and students alike should at least encourage international students when they make attempts to speak their language. It is not as if you can pronounce their language too.

Also, faculty administration should organize language learning or support programs. Lecturers, on the other hand, may as well permit international students to record their lectures. You should note that language proficiency is not equivalent to excellent academic performance.

Consider making accommodation alternatives

When working with international students, faculty administration must show a degree of love and concern for their wellbeing. International students often have no relatives, family, or anyone who can provide a form of assistance.

Providing accommodation options is one of the best things you can offer. Accommodation is always a big issue for most International students. The truth is, international students can’t be walking around looking for where to stay or squat. They will find it difficult. Giving them options of where to stay during their studies would prove very useful.

Connect them with an alumni or international ambassador club

An institution without an alumni network will not have a good reputation in the academic community. The Alumni network helps the institution to penetrate spheres of development in the county and improves employment options.

More importantly, an international ambassador club will help other international students settle well. A foreign fresher student will most likely find another student from his hometown from the club. Therefore, Settling down well will not be an issue.

Also, an international ambassador club will make working with international students very easy for faculties and schools in general. An excellent international ambassador club is also a perfect place where even the new international students can benefit the most.

You need to emphasize office hours when working with international students

In many nations of the world, lecturers and professors are distant from the students. They are adored like some kind of god, and students do not have any reason to meet them for anything outside the classroom.

As a result, many foreign students are reluctant to visit lecturers during ‘office hours.’ They often don’t see the need to since their past experiences in school don’t warrant such.

Therefore, it is the task of the faculty representative or even the lecturers in charge to emphasize office hours and the need to pay a visit to lecturers and the international body.

Gradually put them through what education in your country entails

An essential part of education in a foreign country is knowing the difference between where you are and where you are from. 

Academic culture in countries is different from each other. In most Asian countries, plagiarism is typically non-existent. Any student can copy any document from any site without reference, while other countries normally frown on it.

Also, in some countries, flipped classrooms and many online learning tools are employed to help the students have a good grip of the course’s aim.  However, other countries are still stuck on the traditional way of teaching.

You should appropriately highlight all these differences for students to not struggle with their academic performances.

Conclusion

Every lecturer, students, and even faculties know that working with international students requires a lot of gentle consideration. You can not be found making life difficult for students trying to settle down into a new environment.

Therefore, you should know that asking questions from you does not make them dumb; neither does answering them make you any dumber.

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