02 mei 2017

Teaching in the International Classroom


Through bi-weekly posts, MA staff participating in the USO project on internationalisation will share concrete teaching tools and activities through which we aim to enhance ‘tailor-made’ internationalisation.

This week: International Classroom: lessons from the course ‘Teaching in the International Classroom’ .

Internationalisation: what does this mean for teachers in higher education?

The international classroom, globalisation, cultural diversity: buzz words that we are exposed to on a daily basis. But how does this trend towards increasing internationalisation affect teachers in higher education? In this blog I will sketch a picture of what internationalisation is all about and how it affects both students and teachers.


Internationalisation partly relates to how a university or institution of higher education can attract more international students.  But there is also the concept of ‘internationalisation-at-home (IaH)’ which can apply to a setting with only Dutch students. IaH refers to the use of online international resources, collaboration with foreign universities  or using internationally-focused research topics or case studies. Although internationalisation is related to globalisation, globalisation is more about the economic perspective, brought about by free trade, free capital mobility and increased migration.

Skills students need

What skills will our students need in a globalised economy and how can they compete in a market that is more and more internationally orientated? Apart from learning to communicate and think in English—the international language—students will also be exposed to a larger cultural diversity and multilingualism? Therefore they will need the interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity and communication and language abilities which are in demand by today’s employers.

Internationalisation: more than translating course materials

What does internationalisation mean for teachers in higher education? Teaching in the international classroom involves more than translating course materials into English. A good starting point for teachers is to reflect on their own norms and values regarding teaching (and learning!) in higher education. How many of these norms and values are based on ‘the Dutch academic model’ and how many are applicable in a wider international setting? As an example, does the literature that is used include different cultural perspectives and do case studies  even occur in other countries?

Expectation management is even more important for international students. As they often have different educational backgrounds, they may expect different results and may have a different attitude towards learning. Explaining what is required to do well in the educational system in the Netherlands (for example the interaction in small group work, critical thinking and asking questions) and explaining how their work will be assessed will prevent confusion and disappointing results.

Although teaching in the international classroom will probably take an investment of time and energy, it also offers teachers a great opportunity for personal development. It provides the chance to take a fresh look at course materials and at your role as a teacher. After all, the dedication and enthusiasm of teachers in the international classroom directly influence students’ learning!

This blog is based on a column in the newsletter ‘Higher Education’ of COLUU: https://www.uu.nl/nieuws/internationalisation-what-does-this-mean-for-teachers-in-higher-education

A new course of ‘Teaching in the International Classroom’  will start on the 15th of September 2017. In this course you will get concrete teaching tools that you can use in your own teaching practice. You will also share experiences with colleagues and learn about active learning tasks and activities that will enhance tailor-made internationalisation in your classroom! Register on the website: https://www.uu.nl/onderwijs/onderwijsadvies-training/scholing/hoger-onderwijs/onderwijs-geven/teaching-in-the-international-classroom-in-english


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