Teaching international students: challenging but rewarding

Teaching international students can be challenging yet rewarding, according to some Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) lecturers.

In her experience, senior lecturer Katie Oscroft finds that international students often have more cultural depth to add to the session.

“Some students may know things other don’t, and it’s a good opportunity to use the individual experiences to enrich the learning process,” said Katie, who specialises in television news.

SHU Lecturer Katie Oscroft (first from left, bottom row) with the iStudyAbroad team after a TV news bulletin production.

Principal lecturer Dr. Geff Green has taught in SHU for 14 years, and deals with many international students from different countries.

He said: “Overseas students bring a new dynamic and diversity into the classroom, and there’s always something interesting to learn from them.”

ACADEMIC SHOCK

Students may face ‘academic shock’ when they make the transition into a new learning environment, and it becomes the lecturer’s task to support them.

Over his years of experience in SHU, senior lecturer Saeed Hassani has developed an effective way to approach international students.

Saeed, course leader for Computer Networks, also obtains written or verbal feedback from the students to ensure that they’re on the right track throughout the course.

“I’ve noticed that international students do not ask many questions, and I often joke that ‘Questions are free today, Buy 1 free 1’ to encourage them to participate,” he said.

Computer Networks lecturer Saeed Hassani found that international students seldom ask questions in classes.

PROMISING PROGRESS

Dr. Geff Green, course leader for BA (Hons) Journalism.

Meanwhile, Geff shares that international students tend to show more progress over the duration of the course compared to local students.

“One of my students from China had problems initially with the language and expressing himself. However, he listened, improved his work and his grades improved greatly,” said Geff.

Additionally, Katie found that most international students are highly motivated and keen to learn.

“I’m quite surprised by the level of skill and English from some international students, and they tend to value the opportunity much more than the local students,” she said.

Katie Oscroft, senior lecturer for television news, lectured the iStudyAbroad team in Radio/TV 2.

ADVICE FOR LEARNING

Speaking from experience, Saeed suggests for students to have a good understanding of English and familiarise themselves with the vocabulary of their study area.

“If you try to learn English as well as the subject matter in the first week, it’s an immense task,” he said.

In addition to the high level of discipline, Geff hopes international students can be more creative and learn to develop ideas for critical thinking.

He advised: “Carry out research to find out about the country, culture, people and language to build up your knowledge before you come, and it will benefit you greatly.”

-Story, Photo and Audio by Mabel Yan

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