Thoughts to consider when teaching and interacting with international students

  • Consider that international students may be accustomed to very different hierarchical academic systems and may be reticent to visit you during office hours.
  • Consider that multilingual students (both international and domestic) may have a written accent as well as a spoken one. When assessing student writing, it may be helpful to separate errors that get in the way of meaning from those that do not and allow students to submit revisions based on our feedback. You also might provide a grading rubric that clarifies the point value assigned to grammar, usage, and mechanics and/or have students analyze a model writing assignment to highlight features of effective writing in advance of assignment submission.
  • Consider that group work is conducted differently in academic systems worldwide and that detailed instructions on how to divide up tasks and collaboration with others may be quite helpful.
  • Consider that U.S. academic institutions have different customs, practices, and consequences for plagiarism than institutions situated within other cultures. Give your students specific examples of what is / is not plagiarism in your discipline and consider providing them with links to resources to help them navigate this important element of academic writing.*
  • Consider that in addition to U.S.-based academic culture adjustments, international students may be struggling with adjusting generally to life in a relatively small, coastal community with limited access to diverse foods, peoples and cultural activities. Challenges with cultural adjustment can be present for many domestic students too!
  • Consider the following common erroneous assumptions, which may result in implicit or explicit biases
    1. that all international students went to high school abroad
    2. that all international students are here on student visas
    3. that all American citizens went to high school in the U.S.
    4. that language ability and immigration status define identity/intellectual capacity
    5. that international students take seats away from domestic students
    6. that all international students from the same country will act the same way.
  • Consider course discussions/topics that presume a nuanced understanding of American history and politics and ensure international students have access to the background information needed to follow along.
  • Consider the ways in which an international perspective will enhance discussion around course topics and communicate that you are supportive of international students and welcome their feedback and input (example syllabus language below). Note, though, that some students may choose to keep their immigration status or international identity to themselves.


It is my intention that students from all backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diverse perspectives that students bring to the class are valued. I intend to present materials and facilitate activities inclusive of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, immigration status, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. Overall, it is my hope that each of you will engage as respectful and responsible co-learners in this community. Please feel free to come talk with me if there’s anything I can do (or do differently) to support the learning process for you personally or for other students/student groups. You may also contact the Disability Resource Center ( to request specific accommodations as needed.

* Cultural Differences in Plagiarism