We see them everywhere and some of us avoid them and some make that leap to get to know these individuals, who are in a world that seems so strange, clinging to any aspects that remind them of home. Of course I am talking about international students living in all around the world but more specifically in Australia. Despite being fluent in English writing and reading international students still struggle due to the strong ‘Aussie’ accent and vice versa. This makes them less likely to talk to other Australians due to the accent difficulties and the fear of inadequate English level. Peter Kell states that “Australians are unaware of the extent on which local accents, fast speech and Australian colloquialisms reduce foreigners’ ability to understand English”. Thus recent concerns about adopting ‘cultural competence’, defined by Partington & McCudden as “the way people perceive the world, the way they communicate with one another and, the things they do and their values. Culture is used to govern their own actions and interpret the actions of others”
It is one thing to know about cultural competence but how do we put it into action to improve the difficulties international students face to not only academically but socially integrate in Australia. Students want closer interaction with local students (who often appear uninterested) , this allows the international student to develop certain coping mechanisms such as:
– Cultural plurality (coordinating more than one cultural set)
– Multiplicity (being able to adapt and create a new person each time)
– Hybridity (combination and synthesize different cultural and relational elements)
The development of this allows these students an increased capacity to learn quickly, capacity to initiate and respond, flexibility, critical thinking and become more tolerant and understanding of different viewpoints. The question remains how schools will and universities use this information to make a change, the video below show some suggestions, but ask yourself if ‘equality ‘ is so important then shouldn’t these students who have sacrifices so much already just to be able to study be given the opportunity to experience the most out of their new life in Australia. So walk up to these colour full characters as they are much more interesting than you would think with stories you won’t get from your typical Australian ‘mate’.
Kell, P & Vogl , G 2007, International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, Macquarie University, Sydney, pp. 1-10
Marginson, S 2012, International education as self-formation, in Morphing Profit-making business into an intercultural experience, University of Melbourne, pp1-11