How to Make your International Students Feel at Home Faster

OSLT

When I taught (EAP) English for Academic Purposes at a local college, I would start the first class with introductions.Classes traditionally started on the first Monday of the month.I was always amazed when a student would introduce him/herself to the class, and tell us that they just arrived in Canada on Saturday.They hadn’t even had time to recover from jetlag, let alone culture shock!

Interesting research in the area of social psychology suggests that there is an activity that helps students to adjust better.Research conducted with American students living in China reports that those who were treated to apple pie (as a reminder of home), tended to be more comfortable with local students more than those who received mango pudding, a Chinese dessert.

Another longer study looked at Chinese students living abroad.Students who were experiencing high levels of insecurity were asked to write about either a Hong Kong landmark such as Victoria Peak, or about symbols from the host country.The results?Well, students who wrote about their home country, on average, were able to better adjust during their stay and ended up with a more positive impression after their studies.Jeanne Ho-Ying, from City University in Hong Kong suggests that reminders from home helped students who were feeling dislocated to be more “settled, comfortable and secure” (Psychology Today, 2016).

If you are an ESL/EAP instructor, you may want to think about choosing topics that provide students with an opportunity to write or talk about their home countries.If you were learning another language in a foreign country, what would you prefer?

 

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