The university’s international degree programmes are often characterised by a high degree of cultural and linguistic diversity. The classes consist of students and teachers from very different backgrounds whose expectations with regard to teaching and learning vary considerably. This diversity provides the students with unique opportunities to develop their intercultural competences and the international dimensions of their field of study. The international degree programmes are also characterised by the fact that English is the language of instruction. For most students and teachers in Denmark, this is a foreign language which the students have not necessarily used in an academic context before.
Both linguistic and cultural challenges can arise for teaching and learning in an international context. Such challenges might involve general academic competences (academic reading, writing, oral presentations), teaching and exam types, and the expectations of Danish education culture regarding independent study and cooperation between students in study or project groups. Many students from other educational cultures are unfamiliar with the obligations of group work, and students from Denmark and abroad must all learn to make use of their differences in a shared learning process.
In order to succeed in the internationalisation of teaching environments with mixed student groups, it is important that teachers focus on inclusion and work explicitly and in a targeted manner with the various cultural and linguistic differences that are present and the opportunities they offer. This will help you to give the students the best opportunities to achieve their learning objectives and develop their intercultural understanding and competences. This may imply, for instance, that you:
Finally, it is important that the students’ different cultural and linguistic backgrounds are seen as strengths and resources in the teaching, as these provide different perspectives on the course and may increase the students’ awareness of their own academic and cultural backgrounds.
Who are my students – what are their subject-specific and academic competences and resources?
How can I best explain the academic requirements so that all the students understand these?
How do I use cultural and linguistic diversity as a resource in ways which make sense for the course and for my students?
What are my expectations, ideas and possibly prejudices regarding the students I will be teaching? And how do I take this into account?