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Foreign students (international students) attract a lot of attention across the globe. They constitute a group of migrants who do not provoke resistance in societies receiving them. Host societies and governments view foreign students positively. Many states compete in creating favorable conditions aimed at attracting international students in their societies and schools. Foreign students are very delicate in their handling. This is because they influence relations existing with other nations (VanDame, 2001). In addition, foreign students not only have economic benefits to the host countries through paying fees, but also enrich the study process and as well establish close ties between the sending and receiving communities.
In Vilnius (a city characterized by diversity of cultures), despite the favorable conditions and policies introduced aiming at attracting more foreign students to the city, there are also some challenges faced by the foreign students while in the city. Communication challenge, being one of the challenges faced by foreign students, has an influence on the student’s interaction and participation in the classrooms and as well with other students in the schools. The paper highlights on the communication challenges faced by foreign students in Vilnius (Peleckis, 2013).
Before looking at the communication challenges faced by foreign students in the city, it is crucial to understand the efforts and policies made by Lithuania government in attracting the foreign students. Aiming at attracting more students to the city, the government runs two programs for promoting internationalization of higher education in Vilnius. These programs have their priority to Asian states. The policies encourage the flow of international students in Vilnius. On the other hand, there has been signing of cooperation agreements with the European Union states. Political documents (declarations) signed by these nations play a role in promoting joint study programs. Therefore, there is the attraction of students within the European Union nations (Jepson, 2002).
Apparently, universities in Vilnius are improving their quality of education. This plays a role in promoting and attracting foreign students to the city. On the other hand, universities are making efforts of improving and creating international relations with different states. This is through exchange programs and as well through assisting students in resolving their migration issues. These efforts by the universities are attracting large numbers of foreign students to Vilnius (Peleckis, 2013). On the other hand, Vilnius universities have a concern on the student’s worries while choosing a higher education institution.
Vilnius universities are improving the standards of living of foreign students. This links with both linguistic and cultural proximity that the universities create while receiving and relating with the foreign students. Lastly, universities are dealing with worries on recognition of diplomas offered by universities. This is through offering standard diplomas recognized in all nations in the European Union nations. These are some of these are some of the policies and efforts made by universities and as well Lithuania government (Jepson, 2002).
As stated earlier, despite the efforts made by governments and universities in creating favorable conditions of attracting more foreign students in Vilnius, there are some challenges faced by the foreign students. Administrative challenges faced by students arise when the foreign students are reporting to the Lithuanian authorities. These challenges experienced limit the link between the foreign students and the authorities. They play a role in widening the gap between the foreign students and the authorities. On the other hand, foreign students face a human resource challenge. Guidance offered to the foreign students after arrival and while in the higher education, institution contributes to the administrative challenges.
On the other hand, meeting the student’s expectations poses a challenge to the universities (Peleckis, 2013). On the other hand, there is frustration of students since universities do not meet their expectations. A communication challenge (which is the base of the research paper) originates from cultural diversities and as well language difference among the students. Students experience communication challenges through translation and documentation. Foreign students have a difficulty while adapting to the new environment characterized by a diversified culture (Jepson, 2002).
Information Technology skills are becoming important skills in life. They are vital during communication. While promoting economic and scientific progress, IT skills are fundamental factors. This is not only through the communication role they play but also in enhancing and promoting better production methods (VanDame, 2001). In Vilnius, schools play a role of providing students from poor families with the opportunity of learning and acquiring IT skills. However, in Vilnius universities, there is a shortage of Information Technology (IT). On the other hand, IT plays a significant role in teaching students with special needs. IT skills are important in promoting efficient learning in schools and as well helping they overcome social exclusion.
Therefore, they are indispensable for every communication in every society. Therefore, due to the role played by IT skills in communication, it is important providing schools with IT (Peleckis, 2013). Poor computer technologies and internet access supply in schools limits the schools in fulfilling their social roles of reducing the gap lying between different people in the society. International students in Vilnius universities face a challenge in communication arising from the poor supply of IT skills. This limits results from their limitation to computers technologies and as well internet thus rare interactions with others in the universities. International students’ communication highly depends on the level of IT skills. In addition, it depends on IT accessibility and reliability to the students.
Most foreign students in Vilnius have a difficulty while assimilating and adjusting to their new environments. This results from culture shock from difference regarding uncertainty in the norms of the host culture. Foreign students in Vilnius develop a feeling of uncertainty on their response to the host culture. In addition, they are uncertain on how to conduct themselves while in their new environments (Tellis, 1997). This makes the students feel inadequate and misunderstood. Culture alienation of the foreign students may in turn lead to homesickness. This has a great effect on the international students since they end up feeling lonely and develop feelings of depression. This limits their interaction with other students while in the universities. On the other hand, homesickness has an impact on their performance. Culture difference between foreign students and the host nation leads to culture shock. This on the other hand, limits the students’ ability to interact with others in the universities thus contributing to communication challenges faced by foreign students in Vilnius (VanDame, 2001).
Communication challenges faced by international students in Vilnius are not only between students but also with their instructors in the universities. Cultural difference between international students and their instructors affects their interactions (Tellis, 1997). According to researchers, foreign students stated that in their countries, education has a characteristic of large power distance. That is instructors have their esteem. On the other hand, they stated that learning environments remain as teacher-based, formal and allows for little student-teacher interaction. This is in contrast with education setting of Vilnius characterized by smaller power distance. That is the system remains as student-centered.
On the other hand, in Vilnius, the education setting gives students an opportunity of expressing their thoughts and ideas during their interactions with their instructors. This difference creates an interaction barrier between the foreign students and their instructors since many of the students have an authoritative point of view towards their instructors. Communication challenge faced by international students while in Vilnius, has a link with interaction challenges faced by the students. Therefore, communication challenges faced by international students leads to challenges during their interaction with colleagues while in the universities (Tellis, 1997).
Students’ perception towards other cultures contributes to communication challenges faced by foreign students in Vilnius. Research shows that interaction between students in Vilnius depends on their personal willingness. Willingness in interacting with students from other nations and as well cultures limits the foreign students. On the other hand, their perception determines their attitudes towards other students in the university. Due to this attitude, foreign students feel unwelcome in Vilnius. This on the other hand contributes to homesickness of the foreign students. Interaction limitation faced by international students contributes to challenges faced by foreign students in Vilnius (Tellis, 1997). Attitude is a barrier towards effective communication. Therefore, in cases of attitude lying between the foreign and host students, there is a limitation on their interaction. Therefore a communication challenge faced by the foreign students.
Limited English proficiency is another challenge facing foreign students in Vilnius. This leads to poor academic performance and as well, occasional necessity of instructor has individualized attention. In Vilnius, there is an emphasis on spoken type of English. In contrast, some other nations emphasize on written form of English. This limits the students’ verbal proficiency. Difference in the model of English emphasized in nations depends on curriculum used in the nation. As a result, in Vilnius, a higher emphasis on spoken English unlike other nations such as China that emphasize on written form of English. Lower-level English proficiency limits the students’ participation while in class. On the other hand, these students rarely participate in classroom discussion and forums. This reduces their learning and comprehension while in Vilnius. Form of English taught in different nations leads to communication challenge faced by foreign students while in Vilnius. This is because written form of English limits the student’s ability of expressing ideas.
In Vilnius, foreign students face a communication challenge resulting from their social skills. Most of the foreign students, characterized by minimal social skills, rarely interact effectively with other students in Vilnius universities. Social skills are important while communicating with others (McCormack, 1998). Therefore, while creating good relationships with others in the universities, some of the foreign students are unable to interact effectively. Negotiation skills, being one of the social skills required in creating good interrelations with others while in the universities.
Communication challenge arises with the students’ inability of learning social skills. On the other hand, some students are unable to express themselves while relating to their instructors (VanDame, 2001). Therefore, they encounter a communication challenge that arise from their social skill incompetence. Social skills are crucial while expressing ideas. Developing social skills requires the student to create a conducive environment with other students. This enables students to express their ideas without encountering communication challenge. However, with some foreign students in Vilnius, the difference they encounter while in the foreign nation limits their ability to develop social skills. Therefore, foreign students continue encountering a communication challenge resulting from social skills limitation (Peleckis, 2013).
Language difference between students in Vilnius universities contributes to communication challenges faced by foreign students. Vilnius is a city characterized by a wide variety of cultures. Its population comprise of students from different nations and as well different communities (Tellis, 1997). This implies that there is a wide spread use of language. Effective communication has a characteristic of prior knowledge of the language used during communication. Different cultures use different languages of communication. In Vilnius, daily communication has a characteristic of both verbal and non-verbal (body language) communication. Most of the students use English as their main instrument of communication. Due to cultural difference, foreign students encounter a challenge while learning the languages used by others in the universities (McCormack, 1998). Spanish, German and Russian students face a difficulty while adopting to the widespread use of English in Vilnius.
Due to the difference in language between students, there lies need for translation of the languages. Research shows that while resulting from cross-cultural communications, students encountered some difficulties. Some of the challenges encountered by foreign students while in Vilnius universities are; daily embarrassment and funny misunderstanding following the difference in interpretation of body language used in communication (Tellis, 1997). On the other hand, there difference in cultural and social treatment of things adds up to the challenges difficulties encountered by the foreign students. Unlike with the host students, foreign students have native accents and dialects. This limits their interaction with other students in the universities with the fear of facing embarrassment. Communication challenge faced by international students in Vilnius results from the language barrier. That is a different interpretation of language used in communication (Jepson, 2002).
Due to the language barrier, there lies a need for translation of the language commonly used by the students. During the translation period, there is also another challenge encountered. These challenges encountered are in the form of misunderstanding of the language. Among the foreign students, they have their own interpretation and their translators (Heatherdawson, 2012). On the other hand, host students have their own translators and interpreters of the foreign languages. Difference in translators leads to the difference in understanding the language used by both foreign and local students. This creates a challenge during interaction of students in Vilnius universities (Jepson, 2002). Communication challenge faced by foreign students’ results from the difference in translation of the language used by the students.
Among foreign students, they encounter a challenge due to the complexity of subjects in Vilnius. As stated earlier, some of the foreign students have a problem with language competence. That is they have minimal knowledge of the host language and have insufficient vocabulary. In addition, some foreign students have a limitation in professional language. On the other hand, complexity of lectures and studying with students from other nations adds up to a challenge faced by international students (Heatherdawson, 2012). In Vilnius, teaching methods adopted are different with some nations such as China. Therefore, foreign students from these nations experience a complexity due to teaching methods. Foreign students face these challenges while adapting to the new environments. These challenges contribute to the complexity of subject while in the foreign nation. Interaction of foreign students with others in the host nation faces a limitation due to the complexity (Jepson, 2002).
Research carried out shows that the difference in methods of teaching used by teachers affects the students’ participation in the classroom. Example, in china teachers use the knowledge from books and uses a lot of body language in his work. This is in contrast with the method of teaching adopted by teachers in Vilnius, uses interesting examples aiming at helping the students understand what the teacher is teaching (Heatherdawson, 2012). On the other hand, there lies another difference in the instructor’s approach to studies. Students in Vilnius stated that instructors requested them to work through the problems without the help of their instructors.
This is according to a student who asked the instructor (in Vilnius universities) to show him some numbers in a formula used in class. However, unlike in the student’s host country, the lecturer required the student to do the problem and the lecture would show him how it works the following day. This difference in instructors approach to problems poses a challenge in the students. Initially, most of the students views the approach as unfriendly and never participate actively in classrooms. The difference in problem solving approach causes a communication challenge between instructors and the foreign students (McCormack, 1998).
Preparedness of foreign students studying in Vilnius is another factor that poses a communication challenge between the foreign students and the local students (McCormack, 1998). Some of the foreign students starting their studies in Vilnius rarely have a prior preparation. English preparation is one factor that affects communication between foreign students and others in Vilnius. Pronunciation is one key factor that influences communication between students in Vilnius. Verbal communication between students while studying in Vilnius is dependent on the students’ ability to pronounce properly (Jepson, 2002). Therefore, preparedness in learning the foreign language in Vilnius is important in enhancing effective communication between foreign students and the local students. However, in most cases, some of the foreign students rarely prepare effectively for the language. Therefore, verbal communication faces a challenge resulting fear of pronouncing words properly (VanDame, 2001).
Attending schools abroad is exciting. However, it can be unsettling to foreign students studying in Vilnius (McCormack, 1998). This is due to the numerous challenges faced while in the host nation. Difficulties faced in the academic setting are because of the difference in teaching methodologies used in Vilnius, host nations, and as well difference in learning styles. Adjusting to the new environments and as well culture shock leaves students with the feelings of loneliness and isolation while in Vilnius. Most of the foreign students are not fully prepared while facing Vilnius’s culture. In addition, students rarely prepare for English proficiency. English proficiency is important while acclimating in the new environments. Communication challenge faced by foreign students in Vilnius limits the student’s performance and participation in classrooms. Therefore, there lies a need for determining methods of solving the communication challenges (McCormack, 1998).
The results of the study indicates that there is a difference in forms of English taught in Vilnius and other nations. In addition, the paper shows the effects that culture has on foreign students. Language barrier leads to misunderstanding between students. Awareness of the gaps that lies between the foreign students and the host students is important in helping the students prepare effectively for studying in Vilnius. On the other hand, a better understanding of how foreign students adapt to the new environments and communicate with others while in the universities may help the instructors reduce discrimination and as well bridge the gap between foreign student’s culture and Vilnius’s culture.
Peleckis, K. (September 2013). Theoretical And Practical Problems of Negotiating Competencies Development for. International Journal of Business and Social Science.
Jepson, M., Turner, T. and Calway, B. (2002) The transition of international students into post-graduate study: An incremental approach. Centre for eBusiness and Communication, Swinburne University of Technology, Lilydale.
Tellis, W. (1997). Introduction to case study. TheQualitative Report, 3(2).
Heatherdawson. (2012). Library support for International students.
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA. (n.d.). Cultural Barriers to Effective Communication. International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict.
McCormack, A. S. (1998). Revisiting discrimination on campus: 1988, 1992, and 1996. College Student Journal, 32, 378–393.
VanDame, D., 2001. Quality issues in the internationalisation of higher education. Belgium: University of Ghent.
Teachers play a crucial role in schools, and the new digital age provides teachers with a responsibility to guide children in the use of digital smart devices. Teachers and parents in the UAE wonder if fore-going strict timetables and hard lessons for screens and online resources can enhance creativity and innovation among KIG, KG2 and Grade 1 children. Traditional approaches such as the issuance of homework and the use of tests have been dropped in western countries, and a more personalized education paradigm that embraces technology has emerged. Two articles, one from a UAE media house and the other from CNN will be reviewed to establish why teachers must provide online resources when education KG1, KG2, and Grade 1 children.
Summary Article 1
The article by Gulfnews suggests that UAE institutions must introduce online and screen resources to aid learning outcomes (Zaatari & Zaman, 2017). The article examines the Indian curriculum that embraces the use of tablets and laptops to assist children in kindergartens to learn. The report calls for a structured system where teachers are offered the chance first to understand the resources and later use them to maximize a child’s educational potential (Zaatari & Zaman, 2017).
Summary Article 2
The second article is a CNN editorial that examines the adoption and impact of technology in U.S. schools. Pisa (2017) is of the view that U.S. schools have revised the traditional homework and testing approach to a personalized-style of learning where children use various tech devices to aid their learning. By introducing Project-based learning, U.S. schools are using technology and redesigning class space and management and updating the curriculum to help children build their technical skills and eliminate a test-based grading system.
The two articles agree on the need to integrate online resources and smart devices to eliminate traditional learning approaches (Pisa, 2017; Zaatari & Zaman, 2017). However, Pisa (2017) calls for a project-based online resource approach while Zaatari and Zaman (2017) argue for the use of research sites in the UAE to improve learning. Zaatari and Zaman (2017) go further and support the institution of control mechanisms to improve concentration and minimize distraction. Concerning the critical question, technology in learning is associated with improved brain cohesion as children can establish complex interrelationships in projected queries and simulate real-life problems. Landis (2008) considers this hypothesis part of the constructivism theory, where technology improves the ability of children to access information related to concepts and illustrate through auditory and graphic forms. However, in the first article, parents are concerned as to the effectiveness of the content unlike in the second article where the concern is more on teachers ability to recognize skills. The articles support the use of technology as it is driven by genuine inquiry and thus sparks a child’s brain hence improving problem-solving by enhancing critical thinking.
The new digital age provides teachers with the responsibility to guide children in the use of digital smart devices. Arguably, both articles agree that schools must discard traditional learning methods that entailed strict timetables and long learning days and introduced smart device. Technologies are a great motivation for young children, and at KG1, children can explore their interests. However, there is fear from parents and teachers on the effectiveness of the online content when it contains genera Google searches as it might cause distractions.
Landis, M. (2008). Improving Learning with Constructivist Technology Tools. Journal of Educational Technology, 4(4), 9-15.
Pisa, K. (2017, September 28). Are these the schools of the future? Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/27/health/future-schools/index.html
Zaatari, S., & Zaman, S. (2017, October 27). Education must involve technology and online resources. Retrieved from https://gulfnews.com/news/uae/education/education-must-involve-technolog...
Teaching science subjects requires the incorporation of astute assessment platforms that not only help teachers to determine the knowledge levels among their students but also as a means to evaluate their skills and thinking capacities. Formative and summative assessment tools are the two major approaches used in the education system as they allow teachers to provide immediate feedback during class tasks and to help teachers gauge the student’s understanding of concepts and their ability to showcase their skills at the end of the lesson respectively. The following critical essay aims to describe, explain and provide a reflection of tools used to assess skills in science and its connection to research and classroom experience.
Assessment Practice 1: Formative Assessment – Chick List
The checklist has emerged as one approach used in formative assessment as it can be applied to determine specific behaviors or steps required to accomplish a task. Teachers can introduce a checklist and mark the various steps either as present/absent, complete/incomplete and the like. The checklist is subdivided into two columns with the right-hand side containing the student’s names while the top row contains the element/skills to be assessed (Pinellas School District, 2011). Moreover, the tools can also be viewed as an observational checklist since the teachers typically monitor how the students behave and thus records them during classroom instructions.
As it pertains to my own classroom experiences, I engaged grade 3 children in a lab experiment and requested them to use all relevant materials to record observations about the different rocks and identify their characteristics. I subdivided the children into groups of 5 students and provided them a table to record their observations. I made rounds as the children conducted the experiment and I used a checklist to record the children’s skill set in using the equipment, while at the same time assisting them in recording the observable characteristics. It is important to note that for this type of assessment, I was flexible to ensure that the children did not consider this as a test evaluation but only as an exercise to help them in class. After completing their observations and recording their results in the tables, I requested each group to make their presentations.
It suffices to state that the checklist played a vital role in helping me identify the ability of the students to identify and use the correct equipment to conduct the exercise. Significantly, this exercise was critical I identifying any weaknesses that the children had as a way of helping them improve their skills. However, teaching science subjects is a complicated venture and using a checklist will help in making the learning process flexible as teachers can provide immediate feedback to help the children understand what is required of them and eliminate any misconceptions that they might have about the learning process (Learn, Alberta, 2008).
Assessment Practice 2 – Summative Assessment (Presentation)
Presentations are significant in the learning process as they pave the way for each individual students to stand in front of the classroom and explain about what they have learned. In science lessons, presentations are used as part of summative assessment as it creates an avenue for the use of the spoken work in various forms (Bhati, 2012). Students must, therefore, become aware of the various forms engaged in presentations, and this mainly entails oral presentations, PowerPoint presentation tools, otherwise referred to as PPT while also using relevant skills such as eye contact to make the presentation appropriate. From a personal recollection, I attended a grade 4 science class subject, and the strand under review was matter. The children were required to create scientific tables, and this included the institution of independent and dependent variables on the top left and top right columns in the table respectively. Significantly, the teacher has already modeled an experimental example, and this made it easier for the children to develop their own scientific tables. In the second part of the lesson, each child was requested to provide a handout where they had already recorded the data, and later on, the children took turns to make their presentations on the whiteboard. The teacher was flexible enough to allow the children to make their comments while taking notes on the performance of each child.
Primary school teachers are encouraged to use the presentation aspect of the learning process as this improves their self-confidence and self-efficacy when in front of people. According to the Australian Catholic University (2007), the use of presentations ensures that individuals can articulately present their ideas to an audience, while at the same time helping the presenter gauge the audience and their capacity to internalize the knowledge and share it among themselves. Bhati (2012) implores that the use of presentation as summative assessment creates leeway in the learning process as teachers can also review how their teaching methods impact the program and the learning process and also how best they can introduce or improve the teaching techniques to improve the academic performance of the children.
Teachers agree that using presentations in science subjects helps them improve the children presentation skills as they are able to argue out and describe the relevant data used during experiments. On their part, children build upon their class knowledge to improve their skills when they use presentations and fundamentally, presentations create space for improvements in oral assessment as they become personalized and the arguments are conjured in a manner that improves their ability to understand the topics and how best to plan their arguments and conclusions.
The above critical essay has described, explained and provided a reflection of tools used to assess skills in science and its connection to research and classroom experience. Science subjects are crucial to the learning process as they shed light on how students conceptualize the environment they live in, while also improving the teaching process by ensuring that assessment tools used to meet the needs of the students and also identify the relevant weaknesses. Effective science teachers can make their assessment attractive and useful for students in a way that ensures they learn and develop the essential skills.
Australian Catholic University. (2007). Oral Presentations as Assessment Items. Retrieved from https://resource.acu.edu.au/orals/assessment.htm
Pinellas School District. (2011). Classroom Assessment | Performance Assessment. Retrieved from http://fcit.usf.edu/assessment/performance/assessb.html
Bhati, S. S. (2012). The Effectiveness of Oral Presentation Assessment in a Finance Subject: An Empirical Examination. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 9(2), 6.
Bordo, J. (1999). Tools to use in assessment. Revised from http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/curriculum/worldlanguages/resources/...
Learn Alberta. (2008, October 1). Checklists, Rating Scales and Rubrics (Assessment). Retrieved from http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/mewa/html/assessment/checklists.html
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