Things can get quite overwhelming when someone decides to leave their country to pursue higher education. Not only do they have to adapt to a completely new environment, but they also have to get used to a whole new teaching system. Students often struggle to cope with the curriculum, and no matter how fluent they may be in English, the language barrier cannot be overlooked either.
It is a teacher’s responsibility to make sure all their students are given equal attention. Foreign students might feel intimidated at first, but with a little bit of explaining and encouragement, they can fit right in.
Want to learn how to make learning easier for international students, especially in the UK? Keep reading to find out more.
Find Them the Right Environment
No matter how good of a student someone is, they will not be able to show their true potential if they are placed in the wrong environment. On-campus experience is of course important, but students also need a good home space to study in peace.
Some of the greatest student accommodation in the UK may be found in East London, Liverpool, Leicester, and Glasgow. If you happen to come across any foreign student in the UK, who is struggling to find accommodation in areas like Leicester, you can introduce them to proper accommodations like Student Beehive. Establishments like these provide facilities and amenities that make the lives of international students easier.
Explain Course Details Thoroughly
Most curriculums encourage students to keep themselves updated with course contents, materials, and grading policies. However, simply uploading a document containing all of that information to the student portal might not be the best idea. Missing out on email notifications is quite common. If for some reason, a student doesn’t get notified, they might come to class and be completely clueless as to what’s going on.
This is especially true for international students. Many of them might not be used to online student platforms, which means it’ll be harder for them to find important materials. Therefore, even if it is a little time consuming, be sure to include an introductory class where you explain the course and its policies in detail. Include handouts of the things you will be speaking about as well. By the end of the lecture, let your students know that a soft copy will be available online just in case they want to look at it again or if they lose it.
Here’s another problem that people tend to overlook: Students might be tempted to skip the introductory class. In this case, be sure to send out emails reminding students of the class and mention that it is indeed important.
Don’t Overcomplicate Classwork
The idea of higher education is that it’s much more elaborate and difficult than what students learned at the primary level. However, there’s no need to make course content unnecessarily difficult. This might be completely normal to those who are used to the system. Your foreign students, however, might find this a little exhausting; after all, they probably aren’t used to this pressure. Without a doubt, they can get the work done, but it might harm the quality of their work.
Make your assignments and coursework reasonably challenging toward the beginning of the semester. Gradually increase the difficulty as this will allow room for your foreign students to grow into the educational norms of your institution. It will also make them more productive and therefore willing to take on more challenges in the future.
Encourage Them to Actively Take Part in Class
Believe it or not, many foreign students are quite reluctant to ask questions or actively participate in class. This is because they grew up in an environment where asking questions or putting forward their opinions wasn’t welcome. Hence, out of fear of being turned away, they tend to refrain from speaking up during class. If you ever notice any of your foreign students keeping to themselves, then ask them to join class discussions.
Try to be patient with them as well. It will, without a doubt, take a while before they get used to how things are done in your institution. Tell them that they are welcome to ask for help if they ever run into any difficulties.
Arrange Group Assignments
It’s normal for international students to feel a little uncomfortable trying to make friends with their peers. As I’ve mentioned before, the new environment does take a toll on them; but for them to thrive, they need to get to know their classmates so that they can gain a better understanding of their studies and their surroundings.
The best way to make sure that they are getting along with people is to give out group assignments now and then during the semester. This will encourage them to find people they feel that they can work with. Working in teams not only strengthens bonds between teammates, but it helps the students realize where their expertise and interests lie. It just creates a strong classroom community. It’s what we need to make learning a pleasant experience.
Another way is to arrange presentations based on a topic you give them. Presentations require a lot of research and discussion between groupmates. This will also allow them to give each other the confidence they need to move forward with their studies. Furthermore, working on presentations might also make them want to study in groups before exams.
A study group is very efficient, as this lets students exchange information and work out problems on their own. All of these things can help foreign students adapt quickly. After all, they will feel much more comfortable with people of their age than with a teacher.
Incorporate More Pictures into Your Lectures
The language will at some point slow your foreign student’s learning process. What others may understand simply by reading off of the slides you present during lessons, might take a minute for those whose first language isn’t English.
To avoid these problems, you can include more pictures and visual examples of information that’s particularly difficult to understand. If they can visualize the things you teach, they will be easily embedded into their minds. Not only will this make things a lot easier for foreign students, but it will also make the class more entertaining.
Inform Them of Your Office Hours
If there’s a problem that they cannot discuss in class, then they can always pay a visit to your office for a more personalized discussion. A lot of very capable international students in the UK fail to obtain good grades because they have a gap in their understanding.
Inform your students about your office hours. It’s best if you have multiple slots throughout the day or week so that they can come to see you whenever it’s convenient for them. You can take this opportunity to clear up any confusion or misunderstanding they might have.
You can also ask them about how they are doing, or how they are coping with their studies. Keep yourself updated, and if you feel any of your foreign students need any sort of support (both emotionally or study-wise), be sure to help them out.
Explain University Policies
Here’s another interesting thing to note. Except for some countries, not a lot of teaching institutions emphasize plagiarism. Although steps are being taken to avoid plagiarism, it’s not taken very seriously. This is why you should clearly explain the concept and the consequences that may arise should any student attempt to plagiarize from various sources.
You should also talk about other university policies so foreign students understand what to do and what not to do. You should also elaborate on how the students will be graded throughout the semester—which sections or parts of the course contain the most points? How are the points allocated throughout the coursework? What will cause them to lose points? The more specific the better. Doing this is a great idea because it’s not only useful for foreign students, but also local ones.
Consult with Others in Your Field
You can always arrange for a meeting with senior teachers or your colleagues. Discussing how the teaching staff as a whole can help international students can give rise to a lot of efficient and creative solutions to classroom management issues.
During the discussion, you can also share each other’s personal experiences. This can help shed light on issues that you probably didn’t know existed. If that’s the case, you can all try and figure out how to avoid those in the future.
Young and aspiring individuals at some point do have to leave their homes to achieve their dreams in big cities like- London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow, Leicester etc. However, going overseas can be extremely stressful to those who are doing so for the first time. The least you can do as a teacher is to provide them with as much support as you possibly can so that they can follow their path without too much worry.
Hopefully, this guide will come in handy during the upcoming semester at your institution. Happy teaching!