Foreign students call for English-only lectures

Silliman University (SU) is known for its use of the English language as the medium of instruction (except for foreign language and Filipino subjects). However, this semester, a number of foreign students are complaining about their teachers not speaking in English during class discussions.

Elana Joy Bartlett, president of Higala International Students from Around the World (HISAW), said that some foreign students have had difficulty catching up with the lessons because some teachers are not using English as the language of instruction.

“Not all foreign students can quickly understand English. How much more if it’s completely a different language or dialect,” Bartlett said.

However, Bartlett added that these foreign students have already approached their teachers regarding this concern, but they gave up after reminding those teachers a number of times.

Mark Raygan E. Garcia, director of Office of Information and Publications, said that students are encouraged to raise their concerns to the school administrators.

Garcia explained that the foreign students should make a formal complaint and identify those teachers who are not speaking in English.

“Foreign students can write a formal complaint to address their concern on teachers who are not speaking English in classes and to ensure a good environment for their learning,” Garcia said.

“They are willing to learn, but they can’t be forced to learn because they don’t understand,” Bartlett said.

Garcia said that the foreign students should inform the administration who these teachers are so that the issue can be appropriately addressed.

“This doesn’t mean, however, that teachers will automatically be accused of speaking in the dialect. The administration would like to ensure students that the university has its process,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, the administration knew about this concern two months ago.

“The Vice-President for Academic Affairs cascaded the information to the deans for them to reinforce the need for teachers to speak English in the classrooms,” Garcia said.

Garcia said that the administration also has to know if this problem has already disrupted the learning not just of foreign students, but also of Filipino students in the university.

“The administration is encouraging teachers to speak in the language that is more understood by foreign students and that is English. It can be in the classroom and in administering certain services in the campus,” Garcia said.

On the other hand, foreign students said that this concern is more of an inconvenience on their part than a challenge. “HISAW officers want other foreign students to be exposed to university life, but they are limited because of language barrier,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett expressed that teachers and instructors should know that foreign students need “to be understood and their needs have to be attended to.”

There are over 300 foreign students from 23 countries enrolled in SU.

By Leslie J. Batallones

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