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Cultural and linguistic discrimination of international students


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Cultural and linguistic discrimination of international students

  1. 1. Elisabeth L. ChanTESOL 2013 Dallas, TX
  2. 2. AgendaBackground• Motivation• DefinitionsStudies• 2008• 2013Results• Discussion & Implications• Limitations & Future Research
  3. 3. Acculturative Stress“Sources of acculturative stress often include• English language difficulties,• academic struggles, “Perceived• cultural adaptation, discrimination is• problematic perfectionism, a unique source• lack of social supports, of stress that is different from• homesickness, general stress”• and perceived discrimination” (Harrell, 2000; Meyer, 2003; as cited in(Tung, 2011) Wei et al., 2008)
  4. 4. Effects on Success(such as gender, race, ability) (Grant & Zwier, 2011)
  5. 5. Student Retention• “The most important influence leading a student to recommend the host university to others was the perception of receiving fair and equal treatment.” (Lee, 2010) “Compared with U.S. counterparts, international students are at greater risk of perceiving or experiencing discrimination” (Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007)
  6. 6. Define: Linguicism“ideologies, structures and practices which areused to legitimate, effectuate, and reproducean unequal division of power and resources(both material and immaterial) betweengroups which are defined on the basis oflanguage”(Phillipson, 1992; as cited in Bleichenbacher, 2012)
  7. 7. Linguicism indicators of low particular intelligence language varieties and relationalaccents, speech disharmonydysfluency, and nonstandard grammar and social unacceptability (Clement & Gardner, 2001, and Lippi-Green, 1996; as cited in Ng, 2007)
  8. 8. Define: Neo-racism“Rationalizes the subordination of people ofcolor on the basis of culture, which is ofcourse acquired through acculturation withinan ethnic group, while traditional racismrationalizes it fundamentally in terms ofbiology. Neo-racism is still racism in that itfunctions to maintain racial hierarchies ofoppression.”(Spears, 1999; as cited in Lee & Rice, 2007)
  9. 9. 2008 Study• 5 participants• 4 males, 1 female• Ages 18 - 32• Japanese• International students at a mid-south university• Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. students• Biology, Sports Management, Business, Music• Studied in the US for 1 – 3 years
  10. 10. 2008 Study Student Enrollment by Ethnicity 3% 3% Mid-south city White Population 676,646: Black 62.2% Black White 31.7% Foreign Hispanic 5% Asian Asian 1.7%36% 56% Hispanic Mix 1.2% Unknown American Indian 0.2% Other 2.7% American Indian Pacific Islander 0.1% Alaskan 20,214 Total Students
  11. 11. Primary Questions 2008BEFORE STUDYING IN THE U.S.1. What did they know or were they worried about racism?WHILE STUDYING IN THE U.S.2. What racism had they experienced or seen?3. How were they treated differently based on language and culture?4. What were their perceptions of Americans’ opinions about their language and culture?
  12. 12. Prior to Studying Abroad “I was not aware of racial The majority discrimination because I worried, while others thought it turned into a thing of the past. I did not clearlydid not know of racism understand what it isor thought it no longer like, especially because there existed in the U.S. was no such thing in Japan.” [S2]“I didn’t really worry… we learned that the US is basedon equality and I thought the racial issues were alreadypast histories… Additionally, American TV programs…give us impression that people are equal.” *S1+
  13. 13. Experiencing Discrimination “…when I went to the gym100% of participants to play basketball, blackexperienced some form people did not like to playof discrimination based with me. I thought they rejected me because I was on race or language. Asian.” *S4+“I felt *discrimination+… in the “people treat me better thanfirst semester as a graduate before because I speak Englishstudent when a white professor and know how to act right. Sotreated me wrong like I was a people might have treated mebaby… maybe because I was differently not because of myAsian and could not speak race, but because of myEnglish well.” *S2+ English.” *S1+
  14. 14. What Americans (Don’t) KnowAll reported that “most people in [mid- south city] really don’tAmericans knew know Japanesevery little or nothing cultures and language”about their culture. [S1]“[people] think Chinese, Korean, andJapanese are all the same and understandChinese and Korean culture as Japaneseculture.” *S3+
  15. 15. 2013 Study• 56 participants• 24 males, 32 females• Ages 17-30+• African, Asian, Middle Eastern, European, Central & South American, Caribbean• International students at a southern university• 18 Bachelor’s, 17 Master’s, and 21 Ph.D. students• 40 different majors: arts, sciences, business, etc.• Studied in the US for 1 – 11 years (exc. 21 years)
  16. 16. Student EnrollmentSouthern University: Ethnicity 1%1% White Southern city 6% Population 707,304: 8% Hispanic White 81.0% African-American Hispanic 18.7% Black 8.9%13% Non-resident Alien Asian/Pacific 6.9% 55% Mix 2.3% Asian/Pacific Islander American Indian 0.9% 16% Other 2.7% American Indian Other35,778 Students Total
  17. 17. Top 5 Top 5 % of Int’l Top 5 % of Countries Pop. Participants ParticipantsChina 11.2% India 14%India 8.9% China 11%Korea 5.8% Mexico 9%Saudi Arabia 4.6% Taiwan 5%Nepal 3.5% Malaysia 5% 3020 Students Total 56 Participants
  18. 18. Primary Questions 2013BEFORE COMING TO THE U.S.• What perceptions of racism and America did students have?WHILE STUDYING IN THE U.S.• What types of differential treatment (positive or negative) do students encounter because of racial, linguistic, and/or cultural differences?LOOKING TO THE FUTURE• What can we learn from these encounters to improve students’ experiences?
  19. 19. THEMES • Significant change in students’ perceptions of1 Americans’ knowledge and opinions of their countries • Students’ lack of accurate knowledge and awareness of2 discrimination • Challenges to students’ acceptance & intelligence3 • On campus discrimination4
  20. 20. What Americans Know About Your1 Country, Language, and Culture Before coming to the U.S. I thought Americans… 4% 7% 11% Know nothing/little 13% Have a negative view Have a positive view 66% Have a positive & negative view Other/unclear
  21. 21. 66% of students believed that Americans had a1 negative view of their country, language, and/or culture “I thought that they feel contempt to people from my country. It made feel fear, because I would have to study with them.” (Mexican Male) “I thought that they think Arabs are terrorist and very conservative. I was afraid that I not gonna be accepted by *this+ culture.” (Saudi female)
  22. 22. What Americans Know About Your1 Country, Language, and Culture “*Ghana is+ just one of the poor countries in Africa” (Ghanian Male) “I thought Americans would say that we ride elephants to go to school, and do farming all day long” (Malian female) “we… never take shower, we are very selfish… and disapprove war… Indeed, I came to the US with particular thoughts about the American way of life.” (French Female) “people think we are still poor” (Korean female)
  23. 23. 1 How did their perceptions change? 75% of participants How No Mind How did it change? changed their views onBEFORE STUDYING IN THE U.S. many? Change Changed 0 - + +/- ? Americans’ knowledge ofAmericanstheir country, language, know nothing/little and culture once they 6 0 6 3 2 1about my country began studying in 21 (50%) added aAmericans have a negative view 37 10 27 7 8 9 3 America positive viewAmericans have a positive view 7 2 5 4 1Americans have positive & 7 (17%) added a 8 (19%) now 2 negative view 1 1 1 thinknegative views AmericansOther/unclear 4 1 3 1 2 know nothing TOTAL 56 14 42 or very 1 13 15 5 8 little
  24. 24. 1 How did their perceptions change? “People seem to be very polite and to follow all the "politically correctness" that the system forces them to follow.” (Greek female) “after I came, I feel that Americans are very sensitive about racism than I thought before.” (Turkish female) Americans have a "dark ages" impression of my country… Their thoughts on my language and culture showed how ignorant and uneducated they mostly were. People thought my language and culture was barbaric and restrictive. (Nigerian female)
  25. 25. Students’ lack of accurate knowledge and2 awareness of discrimination International students… 9% Knew nothing/little of 19% racism 16% Knew some, didnt affect Knew some, affected 30% 26% Thought racism no longer exists Other/Unclear
  26. 26. Students’ lack of accurate knowledge and2 awareness of discrimination “I obtain the information about racism in America from media that showed everything is "peace". However, some of my friends who had ever studied in U.S. told me that this is not true.” (Taiwanese male) “I knew about the whole history of slavery and racism in the U.S. but thought that things had completely turned around. So, I was excited. It wasnt until I got my visa that a consulate officer told me that things were still not 100% perfect in Mississippi, where I was headed and I freaked out a little.” (Cameroonian female)
  27. 27. 35% of students had no/little knowledge of2 discrimination before studying abroad or believed it to be a thing of the past. “I didnt know anything about racism in America. I was too young and naive.” (Mexican male) “It was before in the 19th Century but it has been removed after 1960. Eradication of racism makes comfortable for us to study in peace environment.” (Nepalese male) “I didnt know what level it could reach and most of all,i didnt know it was still present.” (Italian female)
  28. 28. Students’ lack of accurate knowledge and2 awareness of discrimination “*acts of discrimination are+ Those who reported not experiencing discrimination often invisible to the casual were unaware of racism or observer, and they areknew little and did not worry sometimes not even about it prior to studying articulated as forms of abroad. oppression” (Eriksen, 1992)“One can be oppressed unknowingly but offense requires (logically or conceptually) the awareness and acknowledgment of its victim” (Gay, 1998)
  29. 29. 2 Looking at the NumbersDiscrimination By race By Language By CultureYESNO 32 18 37 10 47% 22 18Other 3 reported linguistic 7 13Did not answer 3 2and/or cultural 3 discrimination as racism Race reported as Linguicism Neo-racism Unclear racism reported as racism reported as racism 16 8 10 8
  30. 30. 2 Looking at the NumbersDiscrimination By race By Language By CultureYES 32 37 22NO 18 14 (78%) experienced 10 18Other 3 differential treatment 7 13 Only 4 (7%)Did not answer 3 2 3 based on language reported experiencing and/or culture no differential treatmentNO RACISM NO RACE, LANGUAGE CULTURE ONLY LANGUAGE LANGUAGE, ONLY AND CULTURE CULTURE18 4 5 2 7
  31. 31. Racism is used as an umbrella term for any2 type of discrimination “some fewer others took advantage of my initial inability of speaking and understanding English well enough to make fun of me and my home country with stereotypical jokes.” (Italian female) R “I had a few guys who kept distant after learning I was gay. I have also been asked about killing Jesus Christ. (Im Jewish)” (Israeli male)
  32. 32. 3 Challenges to Acceptance & Intelligence “But the rest are not that understanding at all and look at us when we are talking in our own language like we are so strange and unacceptable.” (Iranian male) “Every time I was placed in a group project, I always had to prove my intelligence to the other Americans. Even as a graduate student. Many other international students or my friends had the same experience.” (Barbadian female)
  33. 33. 3 Looking at the Numbers % Reported Discrimination by Race 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 White Black Asian Latino Middle West (n=8) (n=6) (n=30) (n=7) East (n=4) Indian (n=1) Racial Linguistic Cultural Any
  34. 34. Non-white students were less accepted and3 faced more racial and overall discrimination “I have heard and witnessed many situations, which relate or somehow relate with the racism matter. Most of them are about the black people, Hispanic, and Asians. But most of cases are black people.” (Vietnamese female) “Luckily for me Im white (not meant in a racist way, but I think it makes life easier here), so people dont really see Im foreign and even when they know they dont really mind… Even though its convenient for me I think its bad for people Im friends with.” (Dutch male)
  35. 35. 3 Non-acceptance by Race “Jokes about being asian.” (Thai female) “Name callings, hiring process on campus, being scolded at the supermarket” (Malaysian male) “People calling me racist names a few times or people like me (from Hispanic/Latino origin).” (Mexican female)
  36. 36. 3 Non-acceptance by Language People would not talk to me as often as with other local people. They might not understand what I said sometimes. (Hong Kongese male) “I have experienced a hidden racism… they have shown intolerance to my difficulties with the language even when they knew that I was coming to study English. (Chilean male) “A few people sometimes ask very rudely for me to repeat what I say like Im speaking some alien language. Others seem to like my accent… Either way, I feel like an animal on display” (Cameroonian female)
  37. 37. 3 Non-acceptance by Culture “In Russia women are not very emancipated, it makes me look like immature and [dependent] person in the US. Some people like it and think that it is charming, other think that it is ridiculous.” (Russian female) “And they use to make fun of me because I use knife and fork to eat that. Sometimes one person or another would talk about my clothes” (Brazilian female) “People not wanting to shake your hand. People not wanting to sit next to you. And people condemning our meals/foods.” (Nigerian female)
  38. 38. 3 Challenges to Intelligence “when… they know I am not an native speaker, they don’t take my talking seriously… they… think like "oh they would not do anything good". They do not say that, but I am sensitive enough to understand. (Vietnamese female) “I had a lady in the Student Accounting Department treat me like an idiot once I started talking and she heard the accent. I was mad walked away…”(Barbadian female) Ive been treated as if I was mentally incapacitated, I was made fun of both in a bad and in a good way. (Italian female)
  39. 39. 4 On Campus Discrimination: Students When I go to the class, it is really hard… Especially the group discuss, the member might think I am an international student so I might not have a great answer to contribute the assignment . (Taiwanese female) In my English class we formed small groups to work… my group pretty much ignored me and any comments I had to make. I could see they thought my input was valueless. (Mexican female) “people [in class] show surprise at my knowledge and experience with technology because they did not expect that we have ‘such things’. Americans really think that life in my country is like living in hell.” (Nigerian female)
  40. 40. 4 On Campus Discrimination: Professors “once (here, [Southern University]) a professor thought my Asian education didnt work with her taste.” (Taiwanese female) “Also, some people have been impolite when I have reached their office with an appointment: I was not invited to have a sit, but I had to talk from the door.” (Chilean male) I got all As with one C, then I dont need to explain why I got that C in that class. Racism is real…” (Chinese female) Professors like those who talk fluently.... and they easily pass viva exams just because of that... But though we are good in subject... we fail... This is not fair (Indian male)
  41. 41. 4 On Campus Discrimination: Jobs “I only had one bad experience that was when I got a job at school and the person… asked my boss: "are you sure you want to hire an international student?". (Brazilian female) I attended a university in Mississippi and I believe that I wasnt given an assistantship because of my nationality. (Cameroonian female) “…the racism which is here is mainly from the white Americans and I couldnt get a proper on campus job due to this. Its a cliched mind that they have got thinking we dont speak proper English and we are not so very good in getting things done.” (Indian male)
  42. 42. ImplicationsReform pre-orientation and cultural orientation• Unmet expectations = poorer adaptation and increased depression levels (Smith & Khawaja, 2011)• Present realistic expectations regarding jobs (Khawaja & Stallman, 2011)• “Stress the importance of appropriate preparation, both at the stages of pre- departure and on arrival” (Ramburuth & Tani, 2009)
  43. 43. Provide special designated support systems and student led systems• Often don’t trust professional avenues or only in emergencies (Lee & Rice, 2007; Ly, 2008)• Implement buddy programs tailored to specific cultural backgrounds, which won’t work unless ELLs are “considered active members of the classroom community” (Lee & Rice, 2007; Curran, 2003)• Include “coping skills, aiding adjustment to USA culture, offering culturally sensitive counseling, addressing acculturative stressors, and normalising students’ experiences” (Smith & Khawaja, 2011)
  44. 44. Educate faculty and staff on critical language teaching & intercultural communication• Overemphasis on communicative competence causes a “lack of comprehension of language as a collection of meanings that plays an important role in how people interpret themselves and the world in which they live.” (Pennycook, 1990; as cited in Pessoa & Freitas, 2012)• Don’t expect the students to “adapt” alone; faculty, staff, and students have to reflect and be aware (Lee, 2007)• Target the fears that American students have and educate faculty in intercultural awareness” (Charles-Toussaint & Crowson, 2010; Hung & Hyun, 2010)
  45. 45. Incorporate diversity and intercultural issues into curriculum• Campus-organized diversity discussions, interact with… diverse cultural backgrounds, take courses with materials on race and ethnicity = greater levels of learning and development (Glass, 2012)• Implement anti-racist pedagogy. Changes in attitudes, behaviors and achievement occur only when the entire school environment changes to demonstrate a multicultural atmosphere (Curran, 2003)• Another study suggests that sharing counter narratives of strategies for navigating the educational system = educational success through the graduate level (Briscoe, 2003; as cited in Grant & Zwier, 2011)
  46. 46. Limitations Number of Participants Follow-up NeededProportion of CountryParticipation
  47. 47. Summary Majority Experience Discrimination A Lack of Knowledge and Perceived Awareness NegativePerceptions Change
  48. 48. • Bleichenbacher, L. (2012). Linguicism in Hollywood movies? representations of, and audience reactions to multilingualism in mainstream movie dialogues. Multilingua, 31, 155-176. doi:• 10.1515/multi-2012-0008 References Charles-Toussaint, G. C., & Crowson, H. M. (2010). Prejudice against international students: The role of threat perceptions and authoritatian dispositions in u.s. students. The Journal of Psychology, 144(5), 413-428.• Curran, M. E. (2003). Linguistic diversity and classroom management. Theory Into Practice, 42(4), 334-340. Retrieved from• Enrollment table generator. (2008). Unpublished raw data, Office of Institutional Research, Retrieved from• Eriksen, T. H. (1992). Linguistic hegemony and minority resistance. Journal of Peace Research, 29(3), 313-332. Retrieved from• Glass, C. R. (2012). Educational experiences associated with international students learning, development, and positive perceptions of campus climate. Journal of Studies in International Education, 16(3), 228-251. doi: 10.1177/1028315311426783• Grant, C. A., & Zwier, E. (2011). Intersectionality and student outcomes: Sharpening the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, nationalism, and linguistic, religious, and geographical discrimination in teaching and learning. Multicultural Perspectives, 13(4), 181-188. Retrieved from• International student statistical report. (2012). Unpublished raw data, International Students & Scholar Services, Retrieved from Statistical-Report-Fall-2012.pdf• Khawaja, N. G., & Stallman, H. M. (2011). Understanding the coping strategies of international students: A qualitative approach. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 21(2), 203-224. doi: 10.1375/ajgc.21.2.203• Lee, J. J. (2010). International students experiences and attitudes at a us host institution: Self- reports and future recommendations. Journal of Research in International Education, 9(1), 66-84.
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