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Teaching International Students: Helping with the Transition


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Teaching International Students: Helping with the Transition

Teaching International Students: Helping with the Transition
Admin - Sep 13 2015

Given the age of globalization, teachers are more likely to see an influx of international students in their classrooms.  There will be a variety of reasons why students left their countries, some may simply be studying abroad or others may have moved to immigrate.  No matter the reason, teachers for students of English as a second language will have to deal with the transition from one culture to another.

As a teacher, you might have noticed that as the school year progresses international students become less interested in the lesson. While this could be attributed to just fatigue, it may also be the result of culture shock.  Most people experience culture shock in a number of stages. The honeymoon stage is marked by enthusiasm as students acclimatize themselves to their new situation. This stage is followed by hostility and crisis which are characterized by irritability and negativity and a deep sense of homesickness. Teachers should be aware of the different stages of culture shock to better support international students.


Teachers should also be alert for signs of culture shock in their students such as anger, excessive sleepiness, crying over little things, changes in appetites, aches and pains and depression. A student may act out by a refusal to speak the native tongue or rebel against the traditional role expected of the child in his or her native culture. By being aware of these signs a teacher can help their students in this difficult time of transition.

As a teacher, there are a number of ways you can help your students adjust to their new environment. You can teach students about culture shock. This will give them a degree of control and recognition over their feelings. You can encourage students to keep learning or speaking their native language. This will also help with your lessons since knowledge can pass from one language to another and the more they read in different languages, the faster they will bond with new lessons and skills.

You should also be careful in explaining classroom routines to newcomers. This will help create a safe classroom environment. You can foster a feeling of respect in the classroom by planning for projects that will allow the student to teach the class about their native culture. Each member will feel that they contributed to the class.
Encourage your students to participate in outside activities such as sports or hobby programs. Urge to students to find or form support groups. Give students room for reflection.

Dealing with culture shock will be different for every student but the conscientious teacher will know that a few small changes can make a big difference in this difficult time.

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