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Vietnamese and international students may face new and confusing experiences in Australian style tertiary classrooms. Students are expected to:

  • engage in group projects
  • be active and independent learners
  • participate in class discussions
  • ask questions — of lecturers and other students

In the adjustment to a more discursive tertiary classroom, students may stay silent or even withdraw from perceived confusing learning environments and risk being seen as 'passive learners'.

Student stories

The following quotes from classroom students highlight some of the challenges.

In come to the classroom and the teacher will provide you with the knowledge...that they want you to learn…but here you’ve got to learn by yourself.
[In Australia universities] it's less formal and it's somebody standing there in front of you and lecturing's more interactive.
[In Australia universities] [students] don't have to worry that they would offend the teacher or their class fellows...

The following video from Umbreen describes some of the challenges that international students face.

It is important that the rules of engagement and expectations of student behaviour be made clear. Approaches such as group work, discussion, critique, etc., are more likely to be effective if they are introduced slowly with clear guidelines and instructions.

Structure opportunities in class for students to ask questions and clarify their understanding of course content to stimulate and improve their learning experience.

Using questions in class (PDF 68KB)

Language development through student interaction (PDF 65KB)

Checking understanding: engage, review, refresh (PDF 67KB)

Encourage student interaction through a variety of whole of class, small group and pairwork activities. This provides students with opportunities to develop competency in the language of the discipline.

Use language-focused activities that enhance the learning of concepts, reasoning and communication relevant to the subject area.

Learning activity (Template) (DOCX 123KB)

Discussion opportunities (PDF KB)

Language development for student interaction (PDF KB)

Integrating language-focused activities in tertiary classrooms (Tip sheet) (PDF KB)