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7 Initiatives to Implement International Student Success

Popularity 2Viewed 1678 times 2017-4-4 11:54 |System category:News| English teaching, ESL, English learning, China teaching

The future is with exploring and adapting to new environments. Students who study abroad are of a different caliber because they accept new challenges and show great determination in pursuit of higher education. It’s admirable and everyone wishes them the best. However, they may not really know what awaits them and related organizations and agencies don’t really prepare them for the educational reality. Sure, students know about the language test issues and have heard from friends about the culture clash aspects, but there are far greater challenges that schools, agencies or training centers do not prepare them for – when they should. In other words, students should be prepared to be academic ready. Here are seven recommendations for educational administrators who want to support international student success.

1. Teachers must encourage students to be more proactive in the classroom. In Asia, where education and authority are valued highly, respect is given to the learning environment, and students generally respond passively. However, in Western culture one of the important tenants of the learning experience is student and teacher interaction. So, for international students in the American classroom this cultural difference has the potential to cause misunderstanding. Therefore, following the adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, it behooves students to adopt this classroom attitude. But does it matter greatly? Yes, because it’s, to some degree, a professor’s measurement of student success. To help students show more initiative in the classroom, teachers should encourage students to ask questions, ask for clarification, increase student interaction, and show verbal and non-verbal communication.

2. Critical thinking needs to be a core principle in education. Perhaps, some might think that critical thinking means trouble and interestingly in Chinese the character for question is the same character as for problem, but there is a greater understanding of it. In a practical sense, critical thinking means the analysis of text and thinking ‘outside the box’ which are two important values in education. If we look at Chinese students who are studying English, we can see that many are excellent wordsmiths who are great at recall. Personally, I have seen many small notebooks with endless words lined up perfectly in columns, and some have proudly reiterated passages from the “I have a dream speech.” But if you ask, “zheshi shenme yisi” (what does that mean) or “Does the dream speech have relevance in 2017?” then one might hear hiccups. So, it’s important that teachers foster this inquiring and creative process while obviously respecting certain issues. In the end, why is critical thinking important to study-abroad students? Simply because, there are many cases being reported of foreign students who were not able to interact in class, or support varying personal opinions, which is a hallmark of Western educational practices in oral and written communication.

3. Classroom instruction must focus on increasing communication skills. Having “oral English” classes is different to learning communication skills. In common schools and training centers, the typical English session is set up to make the student speak, but in reality, it is a pseudo speaking class that is Q&A and about learning a grammar point. As a result, young learners (and older) have a difficult time communicating in unfamiliar environments. In other words, learning communication skills is about really interacting in various scenarios. Moreover, the unfortunate reality is, that the English training industry is not focused on communication skills and fluency, but “workbook English” with learners not getting what they paid for. For the international student, learning communication skills should be a priority because they will encounter numerous situations in a new country. For them, the need is greater since they have to interact with peers and in many speaking scenarios. It is also important to say that in the Western educational environment there is greater autonomy, and therefore students need to be more proactive in their communication since there may or may not be a social structure to depend on.

4. Curriculum's must include opportunities for students to be facilitators in the learning process. This means that the instruction should place students in the driver seat of learning. Students should be given the chance to lead conversations and develop ideas with their peers verses always being teacher led. In essence, the teacher will plan classes that guide students toward becoming facilitators. In doing so, students will have greater responsibility and gain so much more from the learning experience. Moreover, when students are facilitators, they also learn two other important skills necessary for their future: time management and teamwork. In Western education, students will encounter endless opportunities and challenges requiring such skills. Therefore, by practicing these abilities, students will be able to learn the keys to organizing their university life and beyond.

5. The learning experience should include a social aspect to education. Of course, in Asia it’s all about the exam and that’s important, but in America the educational process draws additionally from student individuality. In America, it’s important that students have a well-rounded background or a specific quality. For parents who want their children to enter the top-tier universities they should be aware of this factor, despite the focus on grades. There are numerous resources that point out, that selective universities have a choice of top-tiered GPA candidates and so what they look for additionally is unique student character. In other words, the search is for a student that can contribute to the university life experience through the student’s point of difference. Therefore, it’s wise for organizations to assist students in researching opportunities for student involvement or character building beyond the violin lesson in order to maximize potential to enter a top-tiered university.

6. Schools need to reinforce the academic ethics of the new educational environment. Students need to be aware of the new educational standards because it has serious consequences. In America, there are news reports that a few professors have noticed that some international students neglect certain academic standards. Whether this is a reality or a misperception, there are cases emerging that are considered to be inappropriate classroom behavior, plagiarism, or borderline cheating among a minority of international students. Therefore, schools and organizations need to stress the importance of reiterating and conforming to the educational process of the new environment.

7. Educational leaders should welcome online learning as a key asset to education. Educators fear the distraction character that digital technologies can create, but the reality is that there is a greater opportunity for positive learning than without it. Despite the internet’s entertainment quality, there are numerous educational resources that are extremely beneficial, the likes of which have never been seen before. Hence, it is vital for students to have access to this wealth of learning information, practice research, and take part in online collaborations, because their academic and work future depends on it. Moreover, many schools still are not aware of the great internet treasure that awaits called MOOCs. Unlike previous online learning forums, MOOCs today are firmly established learning platforms that are an incredible and efficient resource to advance student knowledge. Ultimately, what schools should realize is that online access gives students a “heads-up” on their education by taking introductory courses at a very low cost or free.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Comment Comment (2 comments)

Reply Report SEARU 2017-4-16 06:21
Your topic is important and interesting! Our learning content and method have changed a lot with the era progress.
Reply Report rcenglish 2017-4-16 21:12
dui le!  times are changing so we must all learn to adapt ;-)

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