Tips for Discussions for International Students at University

A major part of any university course is discussion. This may be a standalone course focused heavily on discussion of a given topic or a lecture with a tutorial supplementing the core materials. These tutorials are incredibly important and you will be assessed based on your participation. To put it simply, if you don’t speak up on a regular basis it can affect how you are assessed.

For many international students, these tutorial sessions can be stressful because they are so different than how similar topics are discussed back home. Australian students are vocal and very active, often talking over the top of each other and openly debating ideas and concepts in the middle of the session. Whether this is familiar to you or not, it can be hard to jump into the middle of it as a newcomer to the country.

Here are some tips to help not only feel more relaxed and prepared for these discussions, but to stand out and ensure you perform well in the course:

  • Observe How Australian Students Interact – While it might be jarring at first to hear a student so openly disagree with a tutor or instructor, there are still boundaries and general rules that all students follow. You’ll find yourself getting more comfortable quickly if you observe these interactions carefully.
  • Prepare Comments in Advance – While eventually you will want to feel comfortable enough to speak in response to what others are discussing, the best way to prepare for these discussions is to have notes outlined in advance. It can be an interesting thing you remember from the lecture, a question you have about the topic, or a response to something said in a prior session. The goal is to show you understand the material and are engaged.
  • Practice and Prepare for Presentations – Giving a presentation in front of a group of peers is stressful for most people, regardless of whether they are local or international. Take some extra time to prepare, rehearsing your presentation, partnering with another student to share ideas, and going go the student services office for advice.

The goal of these sessions is to engage and involve every student in an active discussion. Education is about more than just lectures and being given a list of answers. It’s about learning how to ask questions, guiding the discussion with a group of your peers, and thinking critical about topics that are new to you. Using the tips above, you can be as actively engaged as any local student in these discussions.

If you are an international student and are interested in learning more about how you can engage with your fellow students, build relationships, and perform well in university courses, make sure to follow Global Experience on Facebook and Twitter where we post new content daily, including our newest blog posts each week.

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