TAGS: First Questions

If you are concerned about working with an international student in your class, there are a few initial questions to consider:

  • What kind of contact have you had with the student? Have you spoken with the student one-on-one or only in the classroom setting?
  • How long has the student been in the U.S.? How long has the student been at U.D.? Could the student be experiencing adjustment issues that might resolve themselves as the semester continues?
  • Have you asked the student what concerns s/he has, and what kind of help s/he thinks is needed?
If you are having difficulties with oral communication:
  • What was the context of the communication? Was it in a classroom setting or one-on-one? Could the difficulty in communication be caused by anxiety in performing in front of a group of students in an unfamiliar context, or does it stem from issues in English language proficiency? If the communication difficulties arise in class,
    • Could you allow the student more time to articulate a response?
    • Could you provide visual or written supports for information communicated orally?
    • Could you provide questions ahead of time to alleviate some anxiety?
  • If the communication difficulty arises in a one-on-one setting, are you concerned with the student’s ability to understand your speech or produce his/her own speech?
    • Could you speak more slowly? What kind of vocabulary are you using – does it include slang, idioms, or jargon?
    • Could you ask the student to rephrase responses, slow down, or write down words that are difficult to understand?
If you are having difficulties with written communication:
  • What was the context of the writing assignment? Was it an in-class writing completed within a limited time frame, or did the student have time to work on it outside of class?
  • What kinds of writing issues are you encountering? Do they seem to be rhetorical (related to audience, context, organization, and presentation of ideas)? Cultural? Or language-based?
    • Could you allow students more time to complete the written assignment?
    • Could you discuss a draft of the writing assignment?
    • Are there patterns of linguistic error that you can identify?
Try to meet with students early in the semester so that you can understand more specifically their linguistic and cultural backgrounds and needs.