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Problems facing students of different nationalities The problems that students may face
The problems that students may face that are of different nationalities range from social interaction with other students and the teacher, understanding instruction and materials, vocabulary and pronunciation, to post traumatic stress disorder. In this article we will try to cover as many issues as we can possibly touch upon.
A student in or from a peaceful and wealthy nation is likely to have had a much easier life than a student from a third world background, however, social and domestic issues and problems do not discriminate between rich and poor, nor between race or creed. The teacher should never assume they have insight beyond the obvious and blatant issues that they are aware of in respect to a student. Whereas, the majority of EFL students are living in their native countries, often the teacher is the one that needs most to adjust to the students' area and cultural, demographic and sociological backgrounds.
Students are sometimes entering into an English class for the simple reason that their families have relocated for employment or business purposes. Many of these students are, initially unable to communicate with other students as well as their teachers. If the student is a young learner they may be self conscious and apprehensive to participate in a class of strangers. They may be suffering from loss of friends and security of the environment they have come from. They may also have moved from their families and be suffering from that loss as well. Their parents may also have high expectations and be pushing for excellence when the student feels they know nothing at the time. Students may also have trouble 'fitting in', peer pressure and problems being accepted by other students can severely diminish participation and motivation as well as hider their ability to absorb information.
In most circumstances, it's quite opposite and the student is where they were born and raised and the only thing foreign is the teacher. There can still be many factors that a teacher must consider, such as religious beliefs and cultural habits and practices. The students may be apprehensive to even trust a foreigner, due to political and sociological situations or beliefs in their country. Generally speaking however, we have found that teachers are respected for what they represent; a chance at knowledge and success.
Students in or from war torn countries, while they may be striving to find a 'way out' through education, also may be dealing with trauma and a life of fear and suffering behind them, as well as around them. We have even seen many reports of students who go back to being soldier for guerrilla armies when frustrated, desperate for income and food, or even threatened or persuaded.
The same can be said for students in areas that are extremely impoverished and not at war. These students can be suffering from hunger and thirst daily, as well as anxiety that they may feel trying to provide for their families. Many factors may contribute to a similar deficiency in ability and attention. If a student is hungry, scared, or scarred by life, they inevitably will have a period of time where their potential is less accessible to the teacher. Many people in nations such as Rwanda and Somalia, the people of the Sudan and Sri Lanka and so many other nations have seen a life that is only a nightmare to most Americans and many Europeans as well as other nationalities. Of course, in some circumstances this can also be true for people from upper class lives and background that have relocated to third world countries and are in a state of 'culture shock' from their new surroundings. These people can also have issues in regards to learning that may have a similar effect on their concentration and ability.
The cost of a student's course, materials and uniforms can even play a role in a student's problems too, causing stress among the family members and further encouraging their families to push for excellence. Also transportation may be a factor, some students walk miles to school, whether it be an English school or a native language school, it can affect the students productivity and attendance.
On a lighter note, simple pronunciation issues can be a major factor. Some nationalities have a very difficult time with the pronunciation of the English language and can be very frustrated and slow to progress regardless of effort. The student may be honestly motivated and giving a full and sincere effort while their tongue will not co-operate with their eagerness to learn the English language.
If a student is a foreigner themselves, or if the majority of the other students are foreigners, communicating and interacting with other students may also be difficult and frustrating. This can be a problem as well as a solution. The problems can include motivating their effort to interact and to communicate on a very basic level using a small vocabulary of English. The solution can be motivation as well; the student may be motivated if the student has no other means to communicate aside from English.
The various demographic, cultural, religious and sociological issues are too vast to name, however in our opinion, there is a similar guideline for all problems that students face no matter where they are or are from. The teacher must be patient and kind, sensitive, always encouraging, and give that ever so important rewarding appreciation for effort. The teacher must always be willing to try new methods and adapt to the students level, needs and situation. The teacher must, if allowable, consider the adaptation of the material to be taught as well. The teacher should be slow to correct, relaxed and never a threat or tyrant.
Student from various ethnic backgrounds need individual consideration, assessment and observation to find the best methods and motivations. Simple clear presentations of easily understood materials are a must. Theatrical, funny, active, interesting and creative games are a winner for all children. Adults may also respond to such methods even if these methods are not as widely considered for engaging adult education.
Every human being has potential towards success and growth of knowledge if properly nourished and guided, encouraged and provided for.