Working With Multilingual Learners
We hope that our resource website will provide resources and practical classroom strategies to help faculty members who are teaching the increasing numbers of multilingual learners in their classrooms. Please feel free to send feedback and suggestions to Kerry Johnson in the English Language Studies Department. Any practical strategies you have used successfully in your classroom will be added to the “Strategies from UFV instructors” section of the website.
Several resources were exceptionally helpful, and we would like to express our gratitude to institutions who freely shared them with us. In addition, we drew on sources available in the UFV library. Because of copyright restrictions, we cannot include all the information in these sources, so we have included an overview of the source and some specific suggestions from specific chapters.
Shapiro, S., Farrelly, R. & Tomas, Z. (2014 ). Fostering International Student Success in Higher Education. Alexandria, VA: TESOL International Association Press.
UFV Library Catalogue
Subjects: Students, Foreign -- English-speaking countries
Location Call No. Status
ABBOTSFORD LB 2375 S43 2014 STACKS
This book is highly recommended. The authors base all discussion on theory and research but focus on practical classroom strategies and approaches to foster student success. A brief overview of the book is provided here to make specific information easier to find. References to specific information from the book are also included in each section of the website.
Chapter 2: Culture
Academic culture and classroom culture
Theoretical background (individualism vs collectivism) and the role this cultural difference might play in issues such as intellectual property and plagiarism, expectations regarding assertiveness or individual ownership, original thought and innovation, direct and indirect communication styles, and the classroom setup (teacher-fronted vs learner-centred). The issue of workload and assessment is included. Continuous assessment or “multipronged” assessment is not a feature of the classrooms many international students have come from. In their home countries, their final grade is often based on one final exam.
Suggestions for supporting international students transitioning into North American academic culture are found on pages 17-27. The need to contextualize pop culture and references to Canadian culture is stressed. Some common scenarios are provided (p. 24) to show why this is important as well as examples of culturally inclusive content (p. 25).
Chapter 3: Applying the Principles of Second Language Acquisition
Theory and research on second language acquisition has resulted in principles guiding classroom practices and teaching methodology in ESL classrooms. These include “scaffolding,” or finding ways to support language acquisition in the classroom, providing opportunities for classroom so that students receive feedback on their communication and acquire self-confidence confidence as their ability to communicate improves through practice, and noticing, or attention to specific language patterns and features, e.g. discipline-specific vocabulary and text features of specific academic text types.
Instructors are well aware that students, whether they speak English as a first language or an additional language, are learning the vocabulary of an academic discipline as they are learning the course content. Two questions for reflection are found on p. 35. These questions are very helpful:
• What are some of the discipline-specific terms or concepts that students might not know prior to taking your course?
• How could you apply the SLA (second language acquisition) principles (scaffolding, interaction, noticing) to make these terms more comprehensible to students (e.g. during class lecture?
Suggestions for implementing the principles of SLA are found on pages 36- 46.
Scaffolding a lecture pp. 36-41
Facilitating class discussion pp. 41-
Specific strategies for supporting multilingual learners and helping them join the discussion are found in the text box on p. 41. 43
Class Readings pp. 43-46
Chapter 4: Assignments and Assessment
Distinguishes between formative assessment, which assesses learning in progress and contributes to the learning process, and summative assessment, which evaluates learning at the end of a course or unit. Some pros and cons of different forms of summative assessment are given in the box on p. 53.
Backward design is discussed on pp 54-55 and front-loading is discussed on pp. 55-56.
One issue regarding assessment is lack of clarity in the assignment description or instructions. Some guidelines are included on pp. 56-57, and explicit rubrics are discussed on pp. 57-59. Some helpful guidelines are included in the box on p. 58.
The section on grading and evaluation on pp. 65-71 includes many helpful strategies to help instructors “navigate” the issue of assessment and make decisions about how they will decide on and deliver assignments in their courses.
The discussion of “accents” on p. 68-69 is related to the discussion of “accents” in the video “Writing across Borders.”
Some suggestions for possible “accommodations” are offered on pp. 67-71. The section “Toward Equity and Empowerment” reminds us that the purpose of assessment and evaluation is to allow students to “show what they have learned in class” (p. 71). Rather than lowering the standards, any accommodations or assessment practices should enable us to “create conditions whereby all students can be successful in meeting the high standards we set for them—not to change our expectations for those who are struggling” (p. 71).
Chapter 5: Empowerment of International Students
Looks at ways to support multilingual learners and to help them “become more integrated into the academic community” (p. 73).
Suggestions for support include getting to know students (pp. 76-78), which includes an activity called “Jigsaw Survey,” which could be adapted for a Canadian context or specific course content. Activities that get students to interact with one another like icebreakers also build the social relationships which are crucial to integrating into the community and feeling welcome and at home in a new environment.
The section on “Encouraging Students to Ask for Help” (pp. 79-80) has some practical suggestions to help multilingual students to get over their embarrassment or fear and understand that instructors are there to help them.
Many instructors want to be able to draw on the knowledge and experience that international students bring with them. The section “Drawing on International Students as a Resource” (pp. 84-86) suggests classroom activities and assignments that give all students the opportunity to share cross-cultural perspectives, explore cultural differences, and learn from one another.
One topic that the authors have found particularly useful for this purpose is the topic of language. The section on “Linguistic Competence” reminds us that the ability to use more than one language has many benefits, including cognitive ones. The topic of language can be used as a “lens through which to examine topics such as immigration policy, human brain development, international human rights, educational reform, and a number of other topics.” It is a topic that can be used to generate discussion and position multilingual learners as knowledge experts.
The appendices should not be ignored. Helpful information includes classroom activities with specific objectives and tipis for implementation, rubric design, writing effective exam questions, grammar support, assessing participation, and additional resources. Links to many of the resources have been provided here.
Writing across Borders
Robertson, W. (2005). Writing across Borders.[videorecording]. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University.
ABBOTSFORD PE 1408 W77 2005 DVD VIDEO
Information about the video
Information about the video can be found on the Oregon State University Writing Center website
Description: Writing across Borders is a 3-year documentary project funded by Oregon State University's Center for Writing and Learning and its Writing Intensive Curriculum Program. The documentary's purpose is to help faculty, writing assistants, and other professionals work more productively with international students in writing environments. The film's goal is to address some of the most significant challenges international students face when writing for American colleges and universities. In addressing these challenges, it asks the following questions: How does culture play out in writing, and how are our expectations shaped by cultural preferences? How do we assess international student writing when we have to grade it alongside the writing of native speakers, and how can we think about surface error in a fair and constructive manner? What kinds of teaching and testing practices disadvantage international students and which help them improve as writers?
The website includes clips from the film and a downloadable transcript of the film.
In the sections “Using the Film for Faculty Development” and “Using the Film for Tutor Training,” there are some excellent questions for reflection and discussion with responses by faculty members involved in the film.
Discussion questions and guiding questions for viewing developed for UFV:
The majority of the video consists of interviews with students from different cultures. Hearing the students talk about writing in their home cultures and share the aspects of writing in North American English that were most problematic for them helps us to better understand why we see patterns in our students’ writing that differ from the way we were taught to write in an academic format. We hope that you will be able to use the video content to open discussion about writing with your learners and to interrogate the cultural expectations that shape your responses to writing by multilingual learners.
The video also includes interviews with instructors who focus on assessment, feedback, testing, and the role of grammar in our perceptions of and feedback on our students’ writing. We hope that these questions will spark discussion between instructors in addition to classroom exchange and dialogue. Check out the discussion in the sections mentioned above.
Culturally Diverse Learners
Thomson Rivers University, Centre for Teaching and Learning
All the videos can be found on the Thomson Rivers website.
These videos were made at Thomson Rivers University and are an open source resource available to all faculty. The videos show typical classroom situations that instructors find challenging. The first part of the video shows the problem. It is followed by cultural background information and the second section of the video, which shows one possible approach for dealing with the situation. Student interviews are included to provide insight into student perspectives.
Each video has a bibliography with further resources on specific topics.
Clips from the videos have been uploaded to specific sections of the website along with reflection/ discussion questions and guiding questions for viewing.
If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact: