International Students and Conversation: Being an Effective Conversation Partner


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Part of a series on Teaching Undergraduate Students to be Effective Conversation Partners
Created by: Angela Gouger, M.Ed.
Target Audience: Undergraduate students volunteering as Conversation Partners

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International Students and Conversation: Being an Effective Conversation Partner

  1. 1. International Students and Conversation Being an Effective Conversation Partner Angela Gouger Regent University
  2. 2. Why are you here? <ul><li>In order to get the most out of any </li></ul><ul><li>experience, it is important to </li></ul><ul><li>understand why you are doing it. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What do you hope to gain </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>from this experience? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ultimately, why are you here? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Workshop Overview <ul><li>Who are international students? </li></ul><ul><li>What is culture shock and acculturation? </li></ul><ul><li>What is academic shock? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the basics of language learning and teaching? </li></ul><ul><li>How do I prepare for my first meeting? </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>More than 600,000 international students are studying in the US every year. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Institute of International Education, 2008) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><ul><ul><li>(Institute of International Education, 2008) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>623,805 </li></ul><ul><li>students </li></ul><ul><li>7% annual </li></ul><ul><li>increase </li></ul><ul><li>3.5% of U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>undergraduate </li></ul><ul><li>population </li></ul>
  6. 6. The TOEFL Exam <ul><li>Accepted by more than 6,000 institutions in 110 countries. </li></ul><ul><li>Measures reading, listening, speaking and writing in English. </li></ul><ul><li>Offered online or on paper at 4,300 locations worldwide. </li></ul><ul><li>Cost varies by country. </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia: $150.00 </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Educational Testing Service [ETS], 2009) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Structure of the TOEFL Exam (ETS, 2009)
  8. 8. Initial Adjustments
  9. 9. First Hand Experience &quot;I had a lot of trouble at first getting adapted to living in the USA. What frustrated me most was that I did not know how even the simplest things worked! For example, I had never used an American-style washing machine before and ended up ruining some of my best clothing. It took me a long time also to get used to the American bank system, since I had never used automated teller machines or personal checks….” — Diana, Bulgaria (U.S. Department of State)
  10. 10. First Hand Experience <ul><li>“ … Other simple things like temperatures and measurements, for example, were difficult to understand because Americans do not use the metric system like in my country. Sometimes I felt like a real idiot, and that made me quite depressed. But after a while, I could do all these things without even thinking about it. I guess I just had to give myself a bit of time to learn.&quot; </li></ul>— Diana, Bulgaria (U.S. Department of State)
  11. 11. Culture Shock
  12. 12. Stages of Culture Shock
  13. 13. Typical Symptoms <ul><ul><li>(Al-Sharideh & Goe, 1998; Keshishian, 2000; U.S. Department of State; Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006; Zhao, Kuh, & Carini, 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stress </li></ul><ul><li>Hostility </li></ul><ul><li>Anxiety </li></ul><ul><li>Rejection </li></ul><ul><li>Dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Homesickness </li></ul><ul><li>Values Shock </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of self-confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling Powerless </li></ul>
  14. 14. In their words… <ul><li>“ The language barrier, lack of familiarity with other aspects of the ‘U.S. culture,’ worries about the hassle of renewing my student visa and obtaining a work permit, and homesickness, always homesickness, made me believe that I was losing my mind. I just could not fit in; I felt more and more alienated.” </li></ul><ul><li> (Keshishian, 2000, p.96) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Student Isolation <ul><li>Increased stress </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of friendships </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of a support system </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of communicative relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of community engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Voluntary and involuntary exclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Failure </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>(Al-Sharideh & Goe, 1998; Fritz, Chin, & DeMarinis, 2008; Hullett & Witte, 2001; Mortenson, 2006; Sovic, 2008; Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006)
  16. 16. Acculturation <ul><li>Change that results from contact with a new culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Adopting cultural norms as ones own. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of adapting to a new culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Adoption of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Culture-related values - Beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customs - Behaviors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Different than assimilation. </li></ul><ul><li>(Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits, 1936; </li></ul><ul><li>Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Culture …. Kultur Cultura 文化 Культура الاستنبات संस्कृति kültür (Translations from:
  18. 18. <ul><li>“ Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Geert Hofstede </li></ul><ul><li> (Peace Corps, n.d., p. 6) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Culture is the shared set of assumptions, values, and beliefs of a group of people by which they organize their common life.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Gary Wederspahn </li></ul><ul><li> (Peace Corps, n.d., p. 8) </li></ul>Culture Defined
  19. 19. The Culture Iceberg Concept (Peace Corps, n.d., p.10) paintings facial expressions religious beliefs religious rituals importance of time values literature child raising beliefs concept of leadership gestures holiday customs concept of fairness nature of friendship notions of modesty foods eating habits understanding of the natural world concept of self work ethic concept of beauty music styles of dress general world view concept of personal space rules of social etiquette
  20. 20. Culture in Language Learning <ul><li>“… language - the means for communication among members of a culture - is the most visible and available expression of culture.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Brown, 2007, p. 194) </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Culturally Constructed Educational Concepts
  22. 22. Academic/Study Shock <ul><li>Defined by Sovic (2008) as the “difficulties of transition to a different system of teaching and learning” (p.145). </li></ul><ul><li>According to Hermann (2004), basic oral English proficiency takes “three to five years to develop, whereas academic English proficiency may require from four to seven years” (p. 243). </li></ul>
  23. 23. University Vocabulary <ul><li>The language of academia </li></ul><ul><li>New academic vocabulary words </li></ul><ul><li>Academic English </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher-talk vs. Student-talk </li></ul><ul><li>Peer Conversational English </li></ul><ul><li>Campus Slang </li></ul>
  24. 24. Teacher-Talk vs. Student-Talk <ul><li>Teacher-talk filled with complex vocabulary and grammatical structures. </li></ul><ul><li>Student-talk filled with colloquial and cultural conceived vocabulary, slang, and personal experiences. </li></ul><ul><li> (Csomay, 2007; Duff, 2002; Godly, Carpenter, & Werner, 2007; Zhou, Knoke, & Sakamoto, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Referring to US students, one international student writes: “…like they couldn’t follow my ideas, follow my perspective. And so it seems difficult to communicate. I think that is not just because of the language, it seems we see the same thing in different ways.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Zhou, Knoke, & Sakamoto, 2005, p.301) </li></ul>
  25. 25. Think Back… <ul><li>First Day </li></ul><ul><li>First Week </li></ul><ul><li>First Semester </li></ul><ul><li>First Year </li></ul>Where do I eat? What do I do? Where are my classes? Will I make friends? What if I don’t like my professors? How will I fit in? What if I don’t like my roommate? What’s an RA? How do I get football tickets? What is my professor looking for?
  26. 26. Academic Language <ul><li>Averil Coxhead (2000) created a list of the 570 most frequently used academic words from academic journals in university settings. </li></ul><ul><li>Jim Burke (2009) created a list of 358 high school academic words necessary to understand assignments and exams. </li></ul><ul><li>Lectures, textbooks, journal articles and assignments regularly contain these words. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Burke, 2004; Burke, 2009; Coxhead, 2000; Vongpumivitch, Huang, & Chang, 2009) </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Communicative Skills <ul><li>Many students learned to read and write before they learned to speak. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicative skills tend to be weakest. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on grammar training, a classical approach to language learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Gap between natural language development and classroom language learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom and real world experiences are different, but complementary. </li></ul>(Chandrasegaran, 2008; Gunn, 2003; Hellermann & Vergun, 2007; Mason, 2006; Spring & Collins, 2008; Wedell, 2008)
  28. 28. Communication <ul><li>“ The goal of learning a foreign language is to be able to communicate.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Zhang, 2007, p.43) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Five C’s of Language Education <ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparisons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(American Council on Teaching of Foreign </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Languages [ACTFL], 2000) </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Natural Conversation <ul><li>Natural conversation is an opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Allows for the practice of: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speaking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Turn-taking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-verbal cues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Discourse markers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Decreases anxiety and increases participation </li></ul><ul><li>(Hellermann & Vergun, 2007; Zhang, 2007) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Authenticity & Meaningfulness <ul><li>“ Culturally and linguistically diverse students flourish when they can communicate and experiment with language in natural situations.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Mason, 2006, p.53) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Authentic interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine relationships </li></ul>(Lin, 2006; Mason, 2006; Russell, 2007; Springer & Collins, 2008)
  32. 32. Active Listening <ul><li>“ To be a good listener you have to be able to show you’re listening.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Ward, Escalante, Bayyari, & Solorio, 2007, p.385) </li></ul><ul><li>Back-channeling: minimal responses to show you are paying attention </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: uh-huh, nodding, repeating </li></ul><ul><li>20% of casual conversation is back-channeling </li></ul><ul><li>Back-channeling is a learned language skill </li></ul><ul><li> (Ward, Escalante, Bayyari, & Solorio, 2007) </li></ul>
  33. 33. ACTFL Proficiency Standards <ul><li>Guidelines for students speaking abilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides for a standard way of evaluating ability. </li></ul><ul><li>Four speaking levels: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Novice </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intermediate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advanced </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Superior </li></ul></ul></ul>(ACTFL, 1999; Breiner-Sanders, Lowe, Miles, & Swender, 2000)
  34. 34. The First Meeting <ul><li>Set a time and a place through email/phone call. </li></ul><ul><li>Pick a place on campus that is convenient and does not require a car. </li></ul><ul><li>Send a reminder the day before your meeting. </li></ul><ul><li>Show up early so you can greet your partner when he/she arrives. </li></ul><ul><li>Begin by learning to pronounce each other’s names. </li></ul><ul><li>Tell your partner a little bit about yourself, then ask them to do the same. </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare a list of questions to aid the conversation. </li></ul><ul><li>Set up your next meeting before you leave. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Conversation Starters <ul><li>Hobbies </li></ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul><ul><li>Family </li></ul><ul><li>Sports </li></ul><ul><li>Favorites </li></ul><ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Majors </li></ul><ul><li>Religious beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Classes </li></ul><ul><li>Culture </li></ul>
  36. 36. Questions? Contact information: Angela Gouger [email_address] If you have questions after today, please contact me, and I will do my best to help!
  37. 37. References <ul><li>Al-Sharideh, K.A. & Goe, W.R. (1998). Ethnic communities within the university: An examination of factors influencing the personal adjustment of international students. Research in Higher Education, 39 (6), 699-725. doi: 0361-0365/98/1200- 069951500/0 </li></ul><ul><li>American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (1999). ACTFL proficiency guidelines: Speaking. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. (2000). Standards for foreign language learning: Preparing for the 21 st century. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Baek, M. & Damarin, S.K. (2008). Computer-mediated communication as experienced by Korean women students in US higher education. Language and Intercultural Communication, 8 (3), 192-217. doi: 10.1080/14708470802167818 </li></ul><ul><li>Breiner-Sanders, K.E., Lowe, P., Miles, J., & Swender, E. (2000). ACTFL proficiency guidelines: Speaking revised 1999. Foreign Language Annals, 33 (1), 13-18. </li></ul><ul><li>Brown, H.D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching (3rd ed.). New York: Pearson. </li></ul><ul><li>Burke, J. (2004). Learning the language of academic study.  Voices From the Middle, 11 (4), 37-42.  </li></ul><ul><li>Burke, J. (2009). Academic vocabulary. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34 , 213-238. </li></ul><ul><li>Csomay, E. (2007). A corpus-based look at linguistic variation in classroom interaction: Teacher talk versus student talk in American university classes. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 6, 336-355.  doi: 10.1016/j.jeap.2007.09.004 </li></ul><ul><li>Duff, P.A. (2002). Pop culture and ESL students: Intertextuality, identity, and participation in classroom discussions.  Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(6), 482-487. </li></ul><ul><li>Educational Testing Service. (2009). The TOEFL test: Test of English as a foreign language . Retrieved February 15, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Freiermuth, M.R. (2001). Native speakers or non-native speakers: Who has the floor? Online and face-to-face interaction in culturally mixed small groups. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 14 (2), 169-199. </li></ul>
  38. 38. References Cont. Fritz, M.V., Chin, D., & DeMarinis, V. (2008). Stressors, anxiety, acculturation and adjustment among international and North American students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32 , 244-259.   Godly, A.J., Carpenter, B.D., & Werner, C.A. (2007). “I’ll speak in proper slang”: Language ideologies in a daily editing activity. Reading Research Quarterly, 42 (1), 100-131. doi:10.1598/RRQ.42.1.4   Graham, S. (2006). Listening comprehension: The learners’ perspective. System, 34 , 165-182. Hellermann, J. & Vergun, A. (2007). Language which is not taught: The discourse marker use of beginning adult learners of English. Journal of Pragmatics, 39, 157-79.    Hermann, F.W. (2004). On wine, cheese, and the superlative role of time in the acquisition of English as a second language. Teaching English in the Two Year College, 31(3) , 240-247.   Huang, J. (2006). The effects of academic skills on Chinese ESL students’ lecture comprehension. College Student Journal, 40 (2), 385-392.   Hullett, C.R. & Witte, K. (2001). Predicting intercultural adaptation and isolation: Using the extended parallel process model to test anxiety/uncertainty management theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 25 , 125-139.   Institute of International Education. (2008). Open doors 2007/2008: Fast facts. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from   Keshishian, F. (2000). Acculturation, communication, and the U.S. mass media: The experience of an Iranian immigrant. The Howard Journal of Communications, 11, 93-106.   Lin, L. (2006). Cultural dimensions of authenticity in teaching. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 111 , 63-72. doi: 10.1002/ace.228 Mason, K. (2006). Cooperative learning and second language acquisition in first-year composition: Opportunities for authentic communication among English language learners. Teaching English in the Two Year College, 34 (1), 52-58.    Mortenson, S.T. (2006). Cultural differences and similarities in seeking social support as a response to academic failure: A comparison of American and Chinese college students. Communication Education, 55 (2), 127-146. doi: 10.1080/03634520600565811 Oberg, K. (1960). Culture shock: adjustment to new cultural environments. Practical Anthropology, 7 , 177-182.   Peace Corps. (n.d.). Culture matters: The Peace Corps cross-cultural workbook. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from 38
  39. 39. References Cont. <ul><li>Phillips, W.K., Lo, S.C., & Yu, T.O. (2002). Teaching techniques among Chinese international students in Christian colleges and universities. Christian Higher Education, 1 (4), 347-369. doi: 10.1080/15363750290040069 </li></ul><ul><li>Redfield, R., Linton, R., & Herskovits, M.J. (1936). Memorandum for the study of acculturation. American Anthropologist, 38 , 149-152. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Russell, N.M. (2007). Teaching more than English: Connecting ESL students to their community through service learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 88 (10), 770-772. </li></ul><ul><li>Sovic, S. (2008). Coping with stress: the perspective of international students. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 6 (3), 145-157. doi: 10.1386/adch.6.3.145/1 </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Springer, S. & Collins, L. (2008). Interacting inside and outside of the language classroom. Language Teaching Research, 12 (1), 39-60. doi: 10.1177/1362168807084493.  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. (2009). Living in the United States. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from </li></ul><ul><li>Vongpumivitch, V., Huang, J., & Chang, Y. (2009). Frequency analysis of the words in the Academic Word List (AWL) and non-AWL content words in applied linguistics research papers. English for Specific Purposes, 28 , 33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.esp.2008.08.003 </li></ul><ul><li>Wang, C.D., & Mallinckrodt, B. (2006). Acculturation, attachment, and psychosocial adjustment of Chinese/Taiwanese international students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53 (4), 422-433. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.53.4.422 </li></ul><ul><li>Ward, N.G., Escalante, R., Bayyari, Y.A., & Solorio, T. (2007). Learning to show you’re listening. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 20 (4), 385-407. doi: 10.1080/09588220701745825 </li></ul><ul><li>Wedell, M. (2008). Developing a capacity to make “English for everyone” worthwhile: Reconsidering outcomes and how to start achieving them. International Journal of Educational Development, 28 , 628-639. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2007.08.002 </li></ul><ul><li>Yang, S. (2008). Narrative of a cross-cultural language teaching experience: Conflicts between theory and practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24 , 1564-1572. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2007.12.003 </li></ul><ul><li>Zhang, Y. (2007). Communication strategies and foreign language learning. US-China Foreign Language, 5 (4), 43-48. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Zhao, C., Kuh, G.D., & Carini, R.M. (2005). A comparison of international student and American student engagement in effective educational practices. The Journal of Higher Education, 76 (2), 209-231. </li></ul><ul><li>Zhao, Y.R., Knoke, D., & Sakamoto, I. (2005). Rethinking silence in the classroom: Chinese students’ experiences of sharing indigenous knowledge. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9 (3), 287-311. doi: 10.1080/13603110500075180 </li></ul>39