Teaching International Students: 10 Tips

Decorative: The top of a globe with many flags of different nations sticking out of it


"10 Tips on How Teach International Students Effectively" (online article) expands (with examples) on the 10 following suggestions for "that will help you establish an open and tolerant online learning environment for all your students":

1. "Find out where your students are from and do a little research on those cultures."

  • "You cannot make any of these assumptions when you teach students from different educational and cultural backgrounds."
  • "Instead, find out what nations your students live in, and read about their educational traditions."

2. "Be sensitive to terminology."

  • "[M]ake sure that you use terminology that is respectful of different cultural traditions and use the accurate name of a people or nation."
  • "Attention to such details will eliminate any confusion and also shows awareness and respect toward other nations."

3. "Be patient with your international students."

  • "Your students will use different cultural norms than what you are used to, and they all come from different educational systems with different standards."
  • "[A]ssume that your students have good intentions, and that any unusual language choices may simply reflect communication problems rather than ill intent, disrespect, or carelessness."

4. "Use more visual examples." 

  • "You may think that your words or sentences are perfectly clear, but to students who primarily communicate in a different language, a visual aid will not only help them understand what you are teaching, but will also help them expand their vocabularies."
  • "Even on a message board, you can include an illustration to clarify material and clear up confusions that language may cause."

5. "Consult with experts in your subject field."

  • "[L]earn what teaching techniques work well with students from different cultures."
  • "As in any educational endeavor, it’s important to learn from your colleagues and collaborate."

6. "Make curriculum relevant to student experiences."

  • "Seek out neutral examples, or use examples that may be more general."
  • "Another option is to give several examples that are tailored to each culture represented in your courses."
  • "This can entail a lot of extra work the first time around, but then you’ll always have them for use with future students."

7. "Encourage cultural exchanges in chats [or discussions]."

  • "When you ask students to contribute via discussion boards and chats, ask them to explain how different concepts are evident in their culture."
  • "Not only will the sharing of such information build your course content, it will assist students in building mutual understanding."

8. "Use neutral language."

  • ""[Use] gender-neutral terms in the classroom, because phrases we think as benign, such as “Hey, guys!” may be uncomfortable or insulting to students from other cultures." 

9. "Avoid politics and religion."

  • "This may be impossible in some classes .... But it’s important to discuss sensitive topics in a truly academic way, with as much objectivity and factual data as possible." 

10. "Remember that you set the example."

  • "Always be respectful of all the beliefs, cultures, and perspectives expressed by the students in your class."
  • "This will encourage the students to do likewise with each other." 
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email