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In-class teaching

Students in lectureUnderstanding lectures for international students is an active experience where they are simultaneously processing words, making sense of key content and associating what they are learning with what they already know.

  • Clearly and repeatedly identifying what is essential content, and what is optional, helps international students focus their efforts on key learning areas.
  • Outline of content of a lecture and/or a unit of study helps international students to place their learning on context and follow the flow of a lecture more effectively.
  • Defining any new and unfamiliar words and concepts assists international students in following the lecture.
  • Give students time to think and formulate their answers when asking them to respond to questions.
  • Consider recording lectures. International students benefit from listening to the lecture again as they can pause and rewind sections they did not understand the first time.
  • Using international examples when possible can contextualise information for international students.
  • Providing a clear summary of lectures with the key learning outcomes will help students summarise and check that they have understood the material.


When students are studying in their second or third language they have to work harder. First they need to understand words and then the message. They can be helped to reduce the double workload and allow increased capacity to concentrate on content by using clear language and examples.

All people can deal with only five new things at any one time. Keeping the message simple and explicit will allow international students to focus on the key learning rather than navigate through language and making decisions on what is important and what is additional information.


  • Use visuals when possible to reduce the cognitive load of words. Diagrams, charts, and pictures are all helpful in providing a different access point to information. These can be helpful as a starting point for a lecture plan.
  • Try listening to your own recorded lectures. This may provide valuable feedback on the speed of delivery and use of colloquialisms/metaphors/jargon.
  • Providing a glossary of key terms on Blackboard and visiting it in the lectures can help students to keep up with their reading and lecture participation.
  • Class-room participation can be supported by getting students to answer questions first in pairs before opening them to a class discussion.
  • Consider the possibility of allowing students to discuss concepts in class in their own language for a short period for checking they have understood the concepts correctly.
  • Encourage tutors to ask students in tutorials what they learnt in lectures and what is still unclear. Lecture content / delivery can then be adjusted based on this feedback.