Those engaging in international education need to develop knowledge and skills that assist international student transition and integration. Specifically, ISANA NZ recommends a 3C APPROACH that includes (i) a commitment to Cultural learning, (ii) using Culturally tailored communication and (iii) embedding Comprehension checking.
A helpful Australian resource that provides detailed information on culture-specific values is Cultural Atlas, which is a joint project led by Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), International Education Services (IES), and Multicultural NSW. It includes information on cultural concepts, etiquette and modes of communication which are useful for international education practitioners interested in tailored practice. To compare cultural values, go to Hofstede Insights. Another schema for making sense of cultural differences is The Lewis Model. The task of the international education practitioner is to engage in cultural learning to develop cultural intelligence
Culturally tailored communication
To begin with, diagnostic testing and quizzes are recommended to gauge students’ English language proficiency and subject knowledge. Following this, effective communication is enhanced by: (a) multiple inputs (b) economy of expression and (c) reflection-on-practice.
(a) Multiple inputs is the use of varied delivery techniques to give students time and repeat opportunities to assimilate new learning. For example, social media, video, role- plays/simulations, case studies and illustrations provide varied ways to communicate key student welfare advice, course outlines and assessment information. Multiple inputs complement conventional information delivery such as texts (brochures and webpages) and talks/presentations (orientation, course introductions, assessment advice) See SCORE
(b) Economy of expression is simply the principle of not using more words that you have to, particularly when addressing newly arrived English as Additional Language students. Students with entry-level English do not cope with information dumps or long talks. It also refers to adapting vocabulary use to fit EAL students’ vocabulary size. To maximise high- frequency words and minimise low-frequency words, use an online vocabulary profiler such as Compleat Lexical Tutor. See Using English for EAL students
(c) Reflection-on-practice is needed to critique communication practice. Given the time pressure imposed by programme and curricular demands it is not easy reflecting critically on practice, yet it is integral to effective intercultural engagement. The use of journaling, peer observation and short-clip videoing provides a buffer against ineffectual auto-pilot practice.
Checking student comprehension is critical given the cultural, linguistic and transitional challenges they face. Brief exit quizzes gauge student uptake following an orientation talk or a first-day course introduction. Quizzes circumvent any cultural disposition students may have to say ‘yes’ when asked if they understand. See Personal safety quiz and Tenancy Services quiz Early formative tasks in course work also provide teachers with an indication of students’ learning progress.
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