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Vignette P2

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Five smiling students sitting in a row
Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Vignette P2. Mona’s Story: How can I enhance oral participation in an English-medium instructed course?

Mona is an academic in a medical department who participated in an intercultural Teaching Process Recall (iTPR) session with 4 other colleagues from different departments and different universities. Mona shared an issue that frequently occurs during her teaching. She teaches some of her courses in English at an Italian university, while English is not her native language nor the native language of most of her students.

She explains that when she asks questions, many students often seem passive, do not interact and she presents her thoughts about potential reasons for this:

You have to know that my students don’t use English very much, we have two or three courses in the curriculum with English as a medium of instruction.


She wonders whether and how she can enhance oral participation in English-medium instructed courses.

What did the group suggest?

The group discussion focused on possible tools or pedagogical strategies for enhancing participation in order to include students who may feel uncomfortable participating in a foreign language.

Alexander proposed:

Maybe it helps if the students know in advance, what kind of questions you will ask them. You could give them a handout at the beginning of a session or show them on a slide.


Judy suggested a technical solution:

Using an Audience Response System can also enhance students‘ participation. Using this software, the teacher can ask for example a multiple choice question to the audience and the students just click one option in there mobile device.


A second aspect that was discussed by the group concerned ideas on how to allow face-saving if language barriers exist.  Sonja said:

If you tell the students, that a wrong answer does not affect their grade, and they won’t be judged when they make mistakes, they can try to speak more freely. You can point out that it is an opportunity to learn.


Mona’s Reflections

Having listened to the discussion, Mona reflected:

In this situation I have the impression that I was not flexible enough to support the students’ needs, especially regarding the fear of using English. It is a matter of using specific techniques and methods.


Vignette P1. Carla’s Story: How do I integrate international students in my class?