Benutzer:JoachimGrzega/Academic Teaching in English

Materials for a Course Lehren in englischer Sprache (Academic Teaching in English)

General Course Contents

  1. Why you don't have to be afraid of un-British and un-American English
    • English as a global language: pronunciation and grammar (BGE)
    • English as a global language: intercultural competence (BGE)
  2. Why technical terms are mostly unproblematic
  3. How everyday terms can become less problematic
    • Basic Global English (BGE) vocabulary
    • frequency lists
    • internationalisms
    • "false friends"
    • emergency and paraphrasing techniques
  4. Setting Up Your Individual Vocabulary
    • principles for selecting words
    • knowing and handling lexicographical sources
    • lexicographical sources
    • techniques for memorizing vocabulary more effectively
  5. The English Academic Classroom
    • phrases
    • problem-solving through Lernen durch Lehren (LdL)
  6. Mini-experiments
    • preparation phase
    • carrying out and evaluating the mini-experiments
  7. Further advice for training your academic English

Focus: Guidelines for Dealing with Interculturality in University Classes

  • Make your students aware that they are in an intercultural learner group.
  • Underline the benefits of an international class: Looking at the world through different glasses may enable finding better solutions for problems and better (i.e. more effective and efficient) learning routes for learning targets.
  • Be aware that some differences between learners may be cultural, other may be individual.
  • Keep in mind that different cultures may use different conversational patterns for the same context. And keep in mind that different cultures may use the same conversational pattern for different contexts. (Example 1: In Germany and France a positive interrogative “Could you do this?” is a more polite request than a negative interrogative “Couldn’t you do this?”; in Russia it’s the other way around. Example 2: In Europe, an apology is an expression of regret and a sign of taking responsibility for an action; in Japan, the second function is not necessarily present).
  • Be aware of the benefits and dangers of stereotypes.
  • Familiarize yourself a little bit with the role of your disciplines in the countries of your students.
  • The construction of a class and a classroom may differ (Example: Chinese students are used to a class monitor, i.e. a student who manages the administrative issues in the class and helps the students in this class solve their problems in daily life.).
  • The procedures for providing oneself with teaching material for a class may differ.
  • Be aware that there are differences in the teacher-student relationship (in some cultures the teacher’s word is taken for granted). Verbalize that being a good teacher is very important to you and that in order to be a good teacher you need honest feedback from the students and active participation that you can see where you can still contribute to make students feel more comfortable.
  • With every aspect (content-wise or procedure-wise) ask international students to compare things to how these are in their countries. This way you show the students that they are valued in your class and you can again focus on the different habits in your country.
  • Whenever you want your students share their own experiences, allow them to tell something that happened to them as an individual or as a member of a group (in some cultures people are very uncomfortable in saying something as individuals).
  • Be aware that there are cultural differences in argumentation and presentation strategies (sequence of question-citation-argument-illustration; use of citations; which works can be cited; how do people cite?).
  • University (or academic) text-types may differ from country to country, some text-types may not be known to every culture (e.g. some cultures may use global introductions, others only the relevant background; some cultures may discuss more than one topic in a paragraph, others not; some cultures may be used to cyclical argumentation, others to linear argumentation; some cultures may be used to ornate language, some cultures to plain, neutral language; some cultures may be used to text-types where authors try to support their opinion (“argumentative”), others have text-types that show all possible aspects and leave taking a position to the reader (“deliberative”)).
  • Avoid jargon whenever possible. For recurrent terms you may want to hand out a glossary (maybe with an audio file so that students can also get used to the pronunciation of these words). Use multi-part definitions with rephrasing of the same content.
  • Be aware that there might be culture-specific concepts and associations behind certain words (e.g. the word democracy might be differently conceived in different countries). This is particularly true of names, dates, political/historical events, and terms for political systems. But this might also be true of technical terms (especially if the same terms occur in everyday language).
  • When using examples and illustrations, don’t use intracultural/local insider knowledge. At best, use cases from different cultural contexts.
  • When using examples and illustrations, use knowledge that your (domestic and international) students have presented in class.
  • Clarify the targets of your class in your first sessions. Ask for what students expect, say what you (have to) expect. (Be aware that some students are used to learning step after step or lists of items by heart; clarify how much you value transfer and students’ own initiatives). If you have the time to practice the things you require from your students, do so. In particular, practice question types that you will use in an exam.
  • Make sure that students understand when you formulate a requirement or just a suggestion.
  • Be as concrete as possible when referring to requirements (precise date of handing in paper etc.: the more precise your information, the more literal will students take the information). Make sure that everybody understands when assignments are due; state the specific place, day and time, e.g. “Please give this to my secretary, Ms. Miller, by February 12, 11 o’clock in the morning”). Refrain from saying “by the end of the week” (students may wonder: does this mean Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, or at some time in the near future?) or saying “in five days” (does this mean calendar or business days?).
  • A writing task at the beginning of a course (on a culturally focussed question within the frame of the course's topic) may allow you to incorporate multicultural facets in later lessons)
  • Encourage mixed groups for group works (with an active integration of all group members; groups shouldn’t consist of more than 5 members; one person should be selected as a reporter; within the course of the seminar everybody should serve as a reporter at least once, nobody should be asked to be a reporter on two tasks in a row).
  • Check whether story-telling could be a helpful tool for reporting (it sometimes is a welcomed tool as metaphors can be used to describe siutations or problems which students do not wish to present as facts).
  • Create teaching around students' interests and make them show their talents (which can be used as creative teaching tools).
  • When you include humor and this doesn't work with some students, it might be that these students come from a culture where it would be rude to smile or laugh about anything a teacher says.
  • Explain the role and consequences of plagiarism.
  • Explain very clearly why a certain activity or task is important and what exactly students should do, explain the process, not only the results you expect.
  • Give people time to articulate their thoughts.
  • Give international students patterns that they could base their work on.
  • Give students advice with respect to self-managed learning (incl. time management).
  • Give international students more face-to-face contact. Try to get to know them on a more personal level. You may also want to initiate a study buddy system between an international student and a domestic student.
  • Be aware that there are differences in the amount of preparation and postprocessing that is normally done by students.
  • Be aware that there are differences in the usual amount of learner autonomy.
  • Find a midway that both the teacher and the students feel comfortable with (some sort of “contract” may be agreed on). However, keep this in mind: whenever you give students options and you hear a "yes", check whether it is actually a "yes, but...", because this means "no" in many societies).
  • Be familiar with the services that are available to international students at your university.
  • Try to memorize your students’ names and ask for the correct way of addressing and the correct pronunciation. This demonstrates that you care about your students.
  • Be aware that there cultural differences in using gestures, body distance, eye contact, and try to make yourself and your students feel at ease in communications.
  • Insert an honest meta-discussion on the seminar, whenever you feel that something is not right (depending on the relationship that you’ve already established with your students, you can stay in the classroom or you first go out and have a student collect positive and negative aspects, which this student should then summarize anonymously).


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  • Banks, J.A. / McGee Banks, C.A. (eds.) (2005), Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, 5th ed., New York: Wiley.
  • Bennett, C.I. (2003), Comprehensive Multicultural Education: Theory and Practice, 5th ed., Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Campbell, D.E. (2004), Choosing Democracy: A Practical Guide to Multicultural Education, 3rd ed., Upper Saddle River: Merrill.
  • Carroll, Jude / Ryan, Janette (eds.) (2005), Teaching International Students: Improving Learning for All, London: Routledge.
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