Teach the Earth > Early Career > International Faculty > Challenges in Teaching

Challenges in Teaching

If you are an international faculty member, you face challenges in teaching beyond those of other faculty members. Here are some suggestions for overcoming those hurdles, gathered from your peers.

Advice from Heike Alberts

Geology Corner at Stanford University. Photo by Carol Ormand, courtesy of Carol Ormand.

Heike Alberts is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. In 2007, she presented her advice for international instructors at a session for international faculty at the Association of American Geographers conference.

Advice from Early Career Workshop Alumni

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Adapting to the US classroom culture

Students in the US often have different expectations than international faculty do when it comes to appropriate classroom behavior, challenging authority, asking naive questions, collaboration vs. plagiarism, and other issues.

Teaching in a foreign language

For many international faculty members, English is a foreign language. Teaching in a foreign language presents multiple challenges, from explaining complex ideas to making yourself understandable to students who may be unfamiliar with your accent.

Cultural literacy

If you weren't raised in the U.S., you may be unfamiliar with "popular culture" – particularly if you've been immersed in graduate studies throughout your time in this country. But cultural literacy makes it easier to relate to your students, and, in some cases, your colleagues.

Lack of familiarity with the "standard" curriculum:

If you were educated outside of the U.S., you may not be sure what students know when they come into your classroom.

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