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Teaching international students: An educator’s perspective

Foundation year is a crucial time for international students and it often falls on the teachers to help students acclimate to Australian study. Trinity College Foundation Studies students Aren Nadya, David Tjhai Yu Nen, and Octavia Ong chat with their teachers to talk about their experience teaching overseas students. 

As one of the largest institutions for foundation studies in Melbourne, Trinity College each year welcomes approximately 1,400 international students to its doors. Most of these students undergo at least a year’s worth of study for what is essentially preparation; preparation to get students motivated and ready for university study in Australia.

It is a crucial stage of these students’ overseas study and for their teachers, helping them become acclimated to overseas study here isn’t always easy.

Danny Tan, an accounting lecturer at Trinity College Foundation Studies who began his teaching career in 2007, described his teaching experience with internationals to be enjoyable yet challenging.

Former dentist and current Trinity teacher Rita George also acknowledged that while “language [was] indeed a challenge”, teaching international students can be rewarding.

“I’ve been teaching residence doctors in Dubai for 22 years, and four years here in Australia. Both countries are multicultural, and based on my observations, I see international students take education more seriously.”

Trinity College teacher Rita George has had years of experience teaching and says that she enjoys her job that much more when teaching international students. | Image supplied.

Some of the more rewarding aspects of the job go beyond well beyond grading papers and teaching in the classroom too.

Daniel Townsend, a teacher within Trinity’s compulsory History of Ideas subject who previously taught at Deakin University and Monash University, cited his experience as a mentor at Trinity — someone who has helped students adjust and build their lives here in Melbourne — as a meaningful aspect of his job.

“It’s always a privilege to watch them grow from Trinity to Melbourne University,” Mr Townsend said who further added that he admires international students “for speaking and writing in a language they are not familiar with”.

Mrs George also added to Mr Townsend’s remarks, further elaborating that her her main goal in teaching was “to show [students] how to be comfortable in their own skin”.

For the most part, these teachers have found the experience of teaching international students to be a pleasant one. Though challenges exist, like they would in any job, these are mostly temporary and can be improved over time. Asked if they could start all over and choose a different career, they each said they’d still go with this job.

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This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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