Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Friday, January 18, 2008

International Students

I was recently looking over the roster for my classes. One of my classes currently has 12 students in it. Of those, six are exchange students from Japan. I have had international students in class before and it certainly makes class more interesting. There is a different perspective and different topics they use for speeches. Still, half the class being exchange students, especially for a Public Speaking course, seems a bit much.

As much as I enjoy having International students in class, there is a difficulty with this situation as well. I have often ended up with students who do not speak English very well. At times, due to accents, it is hard to even understand certain speeches. In fact, there were certain speeches where, come the end of the speech, I actually had no idea of the topic on which the individual just spoke.

It is also difficult to decide how much of leeway to give exchange students. Is it fair to demand more from students born in this country than others? Is it far to cut some students some slack but not others?

It is my understanding that advisors often times suggest, and even push, exchange students to take a public speaking course. I understand why, but I think that the advisors miss the point. Perhaps, just like schools have English as a Second Language class, which deals mainly with writing, they should also offer Public Speaking in English as a Second Language program. This would allow students who are not from this country, who do not speak English as well as others, to still get the advantages of a public speaking course, without putting instructors in a difficult position.

I, honestly, wrestle with these issues. I enjoy the international flavor. I have even had International students come up to me and thank me for the classroom atmosphere I provide and my willingness to work with them. Still, I do not look forward to some of the challenges that come with this.