International Students in Your Classroom Five Tips for Improving Student Success

Having a robust international student population is a huge asset to Webster University. International students bring unique perspectives and experience to our classrooms and help Webster to grow in its mission to transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. To ensure the success of international students in their studies at Webster, here are five basic ways professors can create a classroom environment that enhances their academic success.

Help students decipher the discipline

International students come to Webster with good academic language skills but may need time to absorb and use the specific content language associated with their majors. They can use extra guidance with with terminology and usage, as well as writing standards (including citation style) for their discipline. By providing examples of work, both professional and student produced, that exemplify the expectations of professionals in the field, professors can help students set goals for their professional and academic language development.

Provide more test time for all

Learning a second language is an ongoing process. A student may reach a level of proficiency where he or she will be successful at university, but second language processing, especially when it comes to writing, continues to take time no matter the level of proficiency of the user. Giving the all students in class more time for testing can address this linguistic need without being unfair to the native speaker students in the class.

Plan for multi-modal instruction

International students benefit from receiving information in a variety of ways. It is helpful for students when professors provide PowerPoint slides or lecture notes to accompany the lesson before or after the class session. Allowing students to record the lecture so they can listen again while studying is also especially helpful. Finally, using the whiteboard to highlight vocabulary or concepts that are important to the lecture helps all students focus on the the key ideas and filter information that is being presented.

Let students "write with an accent"

Grading international student writing can become a frustrating experience for professors. While they don't expect international students to speak without making mistakes, they tend to view learners' grammatical errors in writing negatively. One way to approach international student writing is to focus evaluation more on the content and clear expression of ideas rather than on mechanical and minor grammatical errors, especially on lesser writing assignments and in-class testing where multiple drafts are not possible.

Encourage engagement in the classroom

International students want to participate in class and group discussions, but sometimes struggle with leaping into a discussion and being heard. This can be rooted in cultural and educational style differences . Giving students time to reflect on the questions you ask, calling on them directly, and using small group work in conjunction with whole class discussion will allow international students opportunities to participate in discussions with less stress.


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