Inclusive Pedagogy for International Students

Since the number of international students in the US is growing these days, inclusive pedagogy for them is becoming more important. When we say “international student,” it can indicate students from various countries, thus, a pedagogy for international students can be created in many different ways according to the countries that the students come from. Here, I would like to specifically talk about some students from East Asian countries based on the experiences of mine and my friends.

Studying in the US as a Korean, the most challenging part for me has been participating in class discussions. This is because of my culture in which students are generally silent, also my English speaking skill that is not enough to dive in the fast pace of the discussions. Although I tried to speak something each class, I mostly ended up being a silent student. Sharing my experiences with other friends from Korea, China, or Japan, I found that they all had the similar difficulties to mine while they wanted to be more involved in their classes.

Afterwards, I felt bad when I saw myself or other international students who are silent during the class discussion times, and questioned to myself how I could change the atmosphere more inclusive for those students if I taught the class. I thought about a quota system to reserve a certain portion of time for the students who speak less during the class. However, the quota system might be able to interrupt the flow of the discussion, also the system would work only if the students wanted to speak, but couldn’t find an opportunity to do that. Otherwise, the forced speaking time would not be pleasing.

I also thought about keeping a slow pace for the class as it worked well in one of my classes for learning software. But, students’ discussion time would be different from a computing class since the instructor is not the only one who is talking, and it would be hard to ask the speaking students “could you speak slowly?” every moment. Moreover, some people might argue that it is the international students’ own responsibilities to practice speaking and listening English in average speed because college classes are not ESL classes.

In conclusion, I am still looking for effective ways to create an inclusive pedagogy for international students like me. At the same time, I would like to note that this posting should not be a single story about East Asian students because this is purely based on my experiences and some conversations with my friends. There would be some other students from East Asian countries who are good at discussions and well participating in their classes without those concerns.