Tuesday, 21 January 2014

International Student Experience Conference at Plymouth University (18 December 2013)

The event was a fantastic opportunity for networking with almost 200 delegates from universities across the UK. The conference presented high quality papers, workshops and poster displays addressing some of the key factors involved with the internationalisation of the higher education sector in the UK and beyond. 

With keynote addresses by Dr Sheila Trahar (University of Bristol) and Professor Troy Heffernan (Plymouth University - Inaugural Lecture), themes included:
• The student experience of internationalisation
• Creating an international curriculum
• Transnational education
• English language teaching and support
• The business of internationalisation: recruitment, admissions, strategies and partnerships

I gave a presentation on "A 'Roller Coaster' experience? An exploration of Postgraduate International Students perceptions of teaching, learning and assessment and integration with home students and building a campus community" which presented an analysis of focus groups with postgraduate international students as a part of a wider case study I carried out at an English University, which drew on the views of international students, home students and staff. 

Having analysed what the postgraduate international students are saying about teaching, learning, assessment, curriculum, integration with home students and general student experience, I am moving on to my second part of data collection, focus groups and interviews with Student Union members and academics.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Picking on international students will only damage Britain

Is there an alternative to regular and often stringent attendance monitoring system imposed by many universities, which requires them to sign in, up to three times a week, at their university office? Students seem to dislike it, not to mention staff, lecturers and specially created posts for Immigration Compliance Co-ordinators who need to chase up students to "check in" at the campus registry office.

"It has been introduced amid the general anti-immigration hysteria, in order to clamp down on "bogus" overseas students, but has left many students – the overwhelming majority of whom are here for genuine study – feeling as if they are looked upon as visa cheats. We [international students]do not pay thousands of pounds to be treated like we are on probation. And this constant tussle between universities, the Home Office and the UKBA, where we get blamed, is ultimately damaging Britain's image around the world as a welcoming educational destination".

Read more here...

International students: how to teach them alongside native speakers

"In the UK, help needs to be highlighted as available both to students and lecturers. As numbers of international students increase, so should the access to – and emphasis upon – such resources. Many universities already offer staff development courses on teaching overseas students, and attendance should be encouraged.It is also important that lecturers are encouraged to provide feedback on their experiences, in the knowledge that their observations are listened to, acted upon, and examples of good practice promoted. It is only when both students and university staff are fully supported that we can enable international students to flourish within our higher education system."

Monday, 30 September 2013

Improving international students' performance through feedback

The University of Ulster has teamed up with the University of Otago in New Zealand to launch an international project aimed at improving lecture comprehension through student feedback.  No doubt that this research-led student feedback initiative will greatly benefit international students and help staff to more effectively manage their transition to higher education. http://news.ulster.ac.uk/releases/2013/7119.html

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

100,000 more international students in the next 5 years

This probably means I have my job secured until 2018. On a serious note I wonder if universities are ready to support this extra influx of foreign students. In the era of serious cuts and savings at HE institutions I cannot imagine international students having extraordinary experience without EAP support and lecturers being able to cope with extra demands of teaching students with English as a second language. Perhaps it's not too late to change it?

Friday, 12 July 2013

A refresher

Things we all know but forget so often. Now, that I am actively engaged in running and delivery of Pre-sessional EAP courses, the article from Guardian with an interview with Diane Schmitt reiterates the importance of this course prior to students joining their main studies in September. http://m.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/2013/may/08/testing-questions-diane-schmitt-ntu

Monday, 29 April 2013

UCA international staff exchange project in CAFA Beijing, China

Attached few pictures from my 2-week stay in Beijing, China. My colleague, Hannah and I were sent to UCA partner Central Academy of Fine Art to deliver a series of art and design projects with embedded EAP. The experience was immensely fascinating on many levels. Details to be posted soon. Watch this space! Hannah and I are hoping to deliver a presentation on our experience at Learning and Teaching Conference at UCA in September 2013.

Poster to be presented at UoR IoE Doctoral Researcher Seminar

Here's my first attempt with a conference poster - not too bad, huh? I would prefer more visual input on it but the directions were to keep it simple and academic. I'll be presenting it during next week's University of Reading Institute of Education Doctoral Researcher Seminar. The poster has been updated with the recent decision of narrowing down the research to UCA context only as reaching participants at UoR turned out to be extremaly difficult.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Word of Mouth - The University of Babel BBC Radio 4

I have come across a very interesting podcast on BBC Radio 4 on the current issue of the misuse of English at universities and how lecturers can adapt it to the international studentshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r9cr9

"Generations of students have left lecture halls wondering whether they understood what they just heard. Now, a growing proportion of these learners don't consider English their first language. In the first episode in a new series, Michael Rosen visits Birmingham University to investigate how well the English spoken by foreign students equips them for British university life. And to see how lecturers are adapting to their multilingual audience. And there's feature on Special English, the slowed down, limited vocabulary version of the language developed more than half a century ago as a radio experiment, and which the Voice of America network still uses in its programmes".

I found the discussion on the use of banter with international students as particularly interesting. While banter is definitely a virtue appreciated by home students who come from the same culture as the person who initiates mockery and teasing, it is very often misunderstood by students from a different culture. In most extreme situations, some students would feel upset and excluded from the learning community. 

Now, should lecturers avoid banter at all cost? I believe it will be extremely difficult for some to get rid of their 'fine' sense of humour that few will understand: jargon, acronyms known only to locals, references to 3rd league football team, politics, etc. I'm obviously being sarcastic here. The answer is "No"! As long as lecturers engage students in discussions around irony, word-play, puns and slap-sticks - in other words -  present the cultural background and familiarise ALL students with the context, they are allowed to joke as much as they want. 

Now, how do you familiarise international students with these sometimes bizarre or ambiguous concepts? Explaining them is NOT enough I'm afraid. Use examples, show them some pictures and videos illustrating these concepts, WRITE DOWN difficult words on the board for all to see - I'm sure you can predict which words might be more tricky. Don't be lazy! Do a research on where your students come from, familiarise yourself with current issues from their countries. If you share that with them, they will definitely appreciate it which will certainly lay ground for a potential opportunity to banter.