English in Workshop Practice by Alan Mountford

By Alan Mountford

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Some supervisors, or students, arranged informal get-togethers over lunch or dinner, but these were generally ad hoc arrangements and students were often too busy with work commitments to attend. Alan suggests that the onus is on the university to preserve the learning community. He states that ‘casual’ meetings should be part of the course, and facilitated by the supervisors. What is significant, from Alan’s narrative, is that the relationships between supervisors and students afford the opportunity to maintain and foster the community of practice as they engage in this particular kind of situated learning.

This is not necessarily the case offshore, as the reflections of a third student from the contingent in Singapore reveal: Lecturers have their own way of doing things, and sometimes, if you are looking at the point of view of the student, it can be a little disruptive, you see, because every person has a different style, in fact even their handing out of notes, even their delivery of the lecture. Some believe totally in powerpoint presentation. Some only believe in you being in charge of your own studies, being an active constructor of your own knowledge so you make up your notes with no highlights from the lecturer, just discussion.

A common view was that their own backgrounds, as educators and as international students at overseas institutions, prepared them well for any cultural differences in classroom practice. An anomaly here was students’ reticence to discuss their own research projects in class. ” Another said that Chinese students were used to a learning style where they respond to questions when they are called by name. The following comments, however, are more typical of the views of the participants: For some of my classmates, they have totally different subjects and sometimes they find that English is a problem for them.

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