Multilingual Students in the University Classroom was a three-part workshop series aimed at exploring new teaching styles with regards to the increasing population of multilingual students and a desire to meet their needs. Ivaylo “Ivo” Nedyalkov, Pascal Orliac, and Julie Perron have recently completed this three part talk about teaching, offered by the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CEITL) that began in September 2016. Nedyalkov, of Bulgaria, who teaches Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences was once an International student himself, but found the workshops brought more awareness into his teaching. He says, “Although I was an international student myself, and I’ve been trying to be mindful of the experience of the international students that I have, I still benefitted from the workshops. The diversity of the international population can bring a variety of challenges, some of which I wasn’t aware of or didn’t pay enough attention to.”
In September, the series started out with “Academic Culture,” which acknowledged the increase of multilingual students at UNH and the cultural misunderstandings that often arise as a result. This workshop, facilitated by ESL lecturers Denise Desrosiers and Sarah Jusseaume, emphasized background data and responses to case studies. Pascal Orliac, who teaches Organizational Behavior in Paul College, acknowledged that all students have different learning styles, especially across different cultures. He says, “The workshop series on Multilingual Students has been very useful to provide a few more tools to make my students successful…Diversity is taking many forms, likely more than ever before, and one of them is, of course, our origin, native culture, and primary language.”
In January, a special three hour workshop entitled “Faculty and Student Perspectives,” led by Shane Baker, Academic Counselor in Paul College, and Sarah Jusseaume, featured a panel of multilingual students and faculty members in Paul College and CEPS, who described their challenges inside and outside of the classroom, along with their strategies for success. Regarding this workshop, Orliac noted, “It should be extremely clear for all faculty that we can’t just pretend that all students are alike and should be taught in the same way…Simply being aware of this and offering varied learning options to international students can make a big difference.”
Finally, in April, the series closed with “Teaching Strategies,” facilitated by Soo Hyon Kim, Assistant Professor of English, Judy Sharkey, Associate Professor of Education, and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, Associate Professor of English, who discussed language acquisition and offered strategies based on theories of language learning. Julie Perron, a Financial Consultant in Memorial Union and Student Activities, works with a wide range of multilingual students from student employees to members of the various student organizations. Perron said the workshop series gave her two strong takeaways: “One, our written directions need to be clear, concise, and use plain language. Two, multilingual students often need extra time to cognitively process our communications, both oral and written. This series empowered me to be more thoughtful and intentional when creating communications for our student population.” The simple strategies highlighted in this workshop series are easily implemented and make all the difference for multilingual students. Simply being aware of the small changes that can be made is the first step toward improving the academic culture on campus.
The workshop was initiated as a collaboration between the Center for International Education and Global Exchange, the ESL Institute, the Writing Center, and CEITL. Plans are being made to adapt the workshop for various colleges and departments at UNH. If you would be interested in exploring the benefits of a workshop like this in your college or department, please contact Gigi Green in OISS at Gillissen.Green@unh.edu
Kate Luksha | Center for International Education and Global Engagement | firstname.lastname@example.org