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August 2012 issue

Contents
News
News Round Up
Inside the industry
Advisor Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Direction
Special Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
Regional Focus
Market Analysis
Grapevine

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Supportive orientation

Many US high schools offer comprehensive orientation programmes for international students embarking upon their studies in the USA. Such programmes are essential to prepare students for the ups and downs of living in a different country. Gillian Evans reports.


Studying in a high school in another country can be a daunting prospect. Being away from family and friends, coupled with the strains of dealing with a foreign language, culture and study philosophy, can all represent challenges to students aged 12-to-18. “Each student arrives with her own individual hopes and expectations,” observes Carolyn Newton at Ashley Hall in Charleston, SC. “Common problems include language barriers and lack of inclusion in the general student life.”

“Most of our new international students are studying in [the] USA and/or leaving their home country for the first time, and naturally they need more time and support to transition to their new school than their US peers,” says Michele Levy at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA.

The majority of high schools try to prepare students before they arrive by sending them information packs that cover everything about the school and practical issues such as visa regulations. Others also provide student contacts. At Tabor Academy in Marion, MA, for example, each new international student has a US ‘Global Partner’ who contacts them via email in July to build up a relationship with the overseas student prior to arrival.

Many high schools now also provide an orientation programme for international students once they have arrived. These vary in length – usually from one day to a week – and content, but generally cover academic and social issues, and are usually included in the student’s tuition fees.

Tyler Kreitz at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA says many students do not know what is expected of them in the USA. “The largest misconception tends to be that they will not have to work hard to succeed in school,” Kreitz relates. “Some subjects are easier, but some are not, and when you add in the language learning, it is a lot of work and effort. Adjustments to things that they have not anticipated also include unsupervised homework, enquiry/exploration style of learning [and] labs in science.”

Parnell Hagerman at Oldfields School in Sparks Glencoe, MD, also says the school prepares students through an orientation programme. “International students go through [an] intensive orientation programme about the school and how to get things done, what teachers expect, what constitutes plagiarism – very different from country to country – and cultural differences,” Hagerman explains. “They teach us and we teach them. It is a very productive couple of days.”

But high schools not only focus on academic preparation but also on helping students get to know their surroundings by, for example, organising excursions and helping to set up bank and mobile phone accounts. Some also include meetings specifically for the parents of overseas students. According to Steve Downes at Tabor Academy, around three quarters of international students arrive with their parents, so the school organises a welcome ceremony for both students and parents, and a dinner for parents with the headmaster and faculty members while students eat and mix with their peers. “After dinner we require parents to leave the campus for good so that their children can focus on adjusting and making new friends,” he adds.

Although orientation programmes undoubtedly play an important role in helping international students to settle into their new life overseas, Kreitz explains that orientation is an ongoing process. “For academic support and continuing language learning, we continue programmes through the year, because we have found that for many students the initial orientation before school is not enough. We do not rely on the ‘before school’ orientation to do it all.”

Downes agrees. “We see our International Orientation as the start of a process that goes on for several years for each student. Orientation is a good and necessary part of a successful adjustment, but it is only the first step,” he says.


Making friends

Homesickness and integrating with domestic students can be the biggest challenges facing international high school pupils. Orientation programmes go some way to help them adjust to cultural differences, but many schools also work hard to ensure international students mix with local students.

“We have student ambassadors who attend the classroom activities and go on the field experiences with the international students,” relates Carolyn Newton at Ashley Hall in Charleston, SC. “We also have small socials at the homes of domestic students and these events are also attended by parents. We hope that these opportunities allow the international students to get a full introduction to American culture and make connections.”

At Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natwick, MA, there are leadership students who work with the new international students throughout the orientation and school year. “This group is made up of international students and at least one domestic student. During the orientation, the student leaders in other areas of school life also participate in the orientation activities and accompany the new international students on trips,” says Michele Levy.

At Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA, a group of US student “buddies” participate in the international student orientation. “When school starts, the internationals already know people and as part of the orientation, they can enjoy some ‘exchange’ of sharing cultural and academic experiences across cultures,” explains Tyler Kreitz at the school.

While these initiatives cannot completely eradicate feelings of homesickness, they help students become better equipped to deal with them constructively. “During the orientation, we discuss how to overcome the challenges of being homesick and reaching out to students and adults on campus as resources,” confirms Levy.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company

Country

Telephone

Email


ASSOCIATIONS / GROUPS
Alto  
English Australia  
MEI - Marketing English in Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  
English in Chester  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  

ACCOMMODATION
English Australia  

AUSTRALIA
IELTS  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  

CANADA
Bow Valley College  
Braemar College  
Centennial College  
College of New Caledonia  
Connect School of Languages  
Georgian College  
Hansa Language Centre of Toronto  
Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced  
Omnicom School of Languages  
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology  
St James Assiniboia   
York University English Language Institute  
iMandarin Language Training Institute  

CHINA
Camp Beaumont  

ENGLAND
English in Chester  
Embassy CES   
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Stafford House   
St Giles International  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  
Alphe Conferences  

EVENTS
Cambridge Esol  

EXAM BOARDS
IELTS  
Trinity College London  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Active Language Learning  

IRELAND
Centre of English Studies  
Clare Language Centre  
English Language Academy ELA  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Galway Language Centre  
Language College Ireland  
University College Cork Language Centre  
Clubclass Residential Language School  

MALTA
Malta Tourism Authority  
Maltalingua Ltd.  
CNN International Language School  

PHILIPPINES
EIEN Power  
Global Standard  
MDL Cebu Language School  
Paradise English  
International House - Sevilla CLIC  

SPAIN
Xul Comunicación Social  
EF International Language Centers  

SWITZERLAND
Eurocentres International  
Malta Tourism Authority  

TOURIST BOARDS
California State University San Marcos  

USA
ELS Language Centers  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  





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