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Published on January 6, 2009

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“So Tell Me in Your Own Words”:International Students Interviewed by Compatriots. First-Year Experiences at the University of the Arts, LondonDr Silvia SovicSeminar on the Internationalisation of Higher Education, University of Bath, 4 July 2007 : “So Tell Me in Your Own Words”:International Students Interviewed by Compatriots. First-Year Experiences at the University of the Arts, LondonDr Silvia SovicSeminar on the Internationalisation of Higher Education, University of Bath, 4 July 2007 Objective : Objective To explore: How well international students adapt to the system at the University of the Arts What obstacles they face What we can do to help them Key features : Key features Students interviewed in their own language. 14 interviewers from 6 countries (postgraduates in social sciences, from University of London) Written questionnaire + semi structured interviews, allowing qualitative + quantitative analysis 1st year students from : 1st year students from Benchmark : Benchmark 21 home students Total interviews = 162 Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM The process that I have been through is: (1) I had high expectations about liberal teaching and learning approach in the UK, (2) I was shocked and lost; (3) I gradually learned to accommodate and to accept this approach, after doing so many projects. I can see my improvement, but it is a bit slow. Taiwanese student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM I think of the hard aspects of adapting to the English system of learning was that in Korea, you just have to turn in the final project and there is no emphasis on the process. But here in the UK, you have to put more emphasis on the process of the project which makes it more difficult and something I definitely had to adapt to because I wasn’t accustomed to this style in the very beginning. South Korean student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM Unlike the Japanese education system, the students are expected to study on our own here, so at first, I had no idea how to do the work. I had to figure out everything by myself, and it took me until just before the deadline to understand everything. But the volume of work is huge, so it was very difficult at the beginning. Japanese student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM The schooling is a little different here than what I’m used to in the States, it’s a little more free flowing, self-motivating and in the States it’s more programmed and everything’s kind of laid out. Here you kind of do what you need to do and get to explore more on your own terms. American student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM International students should be told that you should forget the way you were taught in your country, now that you are here you have to adapt to the way the British education system works because it’s the British way that we work. Indian student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM I’ve found it easy to adapt to the English system of teaching and learning compared with that of Hong Kong. It’s easy to catch up what they teach. The volume of work is quite a lot this year. The work is like unlimited. I don’t have any social life. I do my homework without a stop. If I stop, it seems like I lag behind the others. Hong Kong student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD There were no problems. It was very easy. In the sense that the system is more relaxed here. If you compare the university system here with that in India or in the US, it’s a lot more relaxed. You don’t have that much pressure on you. Difficult for me would probably be time management. I’m used to having a structure of ‘this week you have this assignment due’ and now there’s a lot of ‘ok, in five weeks you’re going to have to have this project done, you’re going to need so and so done’ and for me I struggled with time management a lot. Indian student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK It was difficult for me. One of the reasons was my English but another reason would be the characters of students in my group. My students have strong characters and they tend to be uncompromising to others so it was difficult to produce an outcome as a result of group work. Japanese student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK I feel it’s hard to speak and share ideas in English, but it’s easy for me to write. Sometimes we have group work which involves sharing ideas. This is hard for me. On the other hand, there is group work which only involves writing. We used to write our own part and combine together which I found is much easier for me compared to a group discussion. Hong Kong student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK Yeah, I think it’s the hardest thing, because we do it with the native speakers too. It’s ok to talk with the teacher, but it’s impossible to keep up with the speed of conversation of the young British girls. Although I want to contribute more, it’s pretty difficult. Japanese student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE I haven’t got enough time to improve my English since I started my course. I thought that I would study my course, and in the meantime I would also improve my English. However, I haven’t even got enough time for my projects, how would it be possible for me to study and to improve my English as well? Taiwanese student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE Where I struggle academically the most is with English language. My IELTS score may have reached the entry requirement for this course. ..but I find myself struggling with listening and speaking. Getting a good score in IELTS doesn’t necessarily suggest that we would be able to do well in our courses. There are some terms and idioms, for instance, in relation to aesthetics and cultural studies that are very difficult for us… Taiwanese student Even though my IELTS score is 8, it means nothing because in practice I need to face different kinds of people with different accents. It’s totally another thing. Hong Kong student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE When I give a presentation, other students ask me about my work and I have to answer immediately. But If I don’t understand, I cannot answer properly. It’s particularly difficult to understand young students who speak very fast. I cannot catch their accent. Then, I miss a lot for my study… Language is an obstacle not only for my learning but also for my social life. I’m really scared to speak to English students. I’m too shy… South Korean students Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE Getting accustomed to British colloquialisms and the British slang… took a couple of months to get used to when I first got here. American student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE FEEDBACK But for us who are studying art, we need some very honest feedback. My tutor always tells me, …, you’ve worked so hard. Well done. But I don’t need you to tell me how much work I’ve done because I know it myself. I only need you to honestly tell me what’s good and bad about my work. Hong Kong student Teaching and Learning Issues : Teaching and Learning Issues THE ENGLISH SYSTEM WORKLOAD GROUP WORK LANGUAGE FEEDBACK She was critical, she criticised our work, but in a nice way. She was not discouraging. Which is one thing that they shouldn’t do, they should encourage you. They can criticise, I am not saying don’t criticise, but in an encouraging way. Indian student Slide 23: The final report is due in autumn 2007. For further information about the International Students Project, contact s.sovic@fashion.arts.ac.uk Dr Silvia Sovic Research Project Coordinator Creative Learning in Practice Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CLIP CETL), University of the Arts, London

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