Teacher Education Experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in the United States: Perspectives From Five Chinese Students

Teacher Education Experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse International Students in the United States: Perspectives From Five Chinese Students

Xiaoming Liu (Towson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4097-7.ch006
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Increasing numbers of students from China are choosing to study in American colleges and universities. While education may not be the top choice of discipline for many international students, the field of education has witnessed an increase in international enrollment in recent years. A study was conducted at a state university in the mid-Atlantic region aiming to investigate the teacher education experiences of international students graduated in the past five years. This chapter focuses on five Chinese pre-service teachers and reports findings that include opportunities and challenges in both on-campus coursework and off-campus internship, impact of both cultures on their teaching beliefs and practice, suggestions to the program, and advice for future international students. Culturally responsive recommendations are also discussed to foster academic success of international students in the teacher preparation program.
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Internationalization is now a prominent trend in higher education world-wide. In the United States, according to the recently released annual Open Doors report (Institute of International Education, 2016), the number of international students enrolled in American colleges and universities exceeded one million for the first time in the 2015-16 academic year. This number reflects a 7.1 percent increase from the previous year. China remains the number one sender of international students to the United States representing approximately 32 percent of the total enrollment (Institute of International Education, 2016). With the growing number of international students, especially Chinese international students in American higher education institutions, it is crucial to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and experiences of these students as they adjust to a new culture and a new academic life.

The Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1986) considers the social context in which learning occurs and highlights the interaction between person, environment, and behavior. The social context includes a person’s past experiences as well as the current setting. As international students adjust to a new culture, they are constantly making transactions between their home country’s values, beliefs, expectations, and attitudes and those of the host country. Therefore, a smooth adjustment depends on the compatibility of these two cultures (Inman, Ladany, Constantine & Morano, 2001; Spooner-Lane, Tangen & Campbell, 2009) and the existence of a support system in learning the new culture. While international students are generally satisfied with their academic experiences, they also report various challenges: low levels of host-country language proficiency (Benzie, 2010; Milian, Birnbaum, Cardona & Nicholson, 2015; Perrucci & Hu, 1995; Spencer-Oatey, Dauber & Williams 2014), academic challenges such as critical thinking skills and oral presentations (Bevis & Lucas, 2007; Spencer, 2003), discrimination and racism (Lee & Rice, 2007; Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007; Trice, 2003), limited social support (Chapdelaine & Alexitch, 2004; Hechanova-Alampay, Beehr, Christiansen & Van Horn, 2002; Poyrazli, Kavanaugh & Baker, 2004), and cultural shock (Andrade, 2006; Chapdelaine & Alexitch, 2004; Winkelman, 1994).

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