An International Perspective:
Reflections from an International Student & Tips for Successfully Engaging Them in Class!
Classroom Culture Shock
How Can You Support International Students?
Learning to Speak Up
1. Ask yourself: do they understand the question or the action item?
2. Build a personal relationship with your student
3. Validate the discomfort and encourage a change in behavior
As I mentioned earlier, I was raised to not express my opinions freely in public. One of my American teachers asked me why I was so quiet during discussions, and after hearing my explanation, she said to me with a smile, “We are no longer in China!” She explained that expressing my thoughts will not be considered ignorant no matter how far-fetched that thought might be. She just wanted to hear what I had to say. The teacher also explained that everyone in the classroom brings a different perspective and being able to share that perspective with other students helps to broaden all of our horizons.
Having my teacher acknowledge that the environment I came from was different, while still explaining the “new rules” allowed me to address those powerful cultural norms that I was just learning how to navigate. As a teacher, ask yourself how many of your students may be sitting there during a discussion thinking, “Is my opinion good enough to share?” or “But my idea is so different than everyone else. It must be wrong!” Alleviating the cultural stress around speaking up is necessary for your Chinese international students, and really all of your students regardless of their cultural background!