Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

When the student can't understand the instructor, who is to blame?

4. April 2005 • MarkDilley
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On the phone from Fargo, N.D., State Rep. Bette Grande’s voice rings with clarity. “Colleges are a business,” she says in a starched Midwestern accent. “When we put research as our No. 1 focus, we forgot the student,” she says. “We got ourselves all turned around.”

Ms. Grande could be talking about any of the ills plaguing a modern university—drops in per-student spending, tuition increases, or maybe the lack of face time with professors. But she has something much more contentious in mind.

She wants her state’s university system to do something about the fact that its students can’t understand what the heck their foreign-born instructors are saying

Studies indicate it the listener has a imortant role in the equation.

>via The Chronicle

>use Bug Me Not to bypass



  1. I just read the article. It is too bad that they did not come out here to UM to
    talk to some of the students from the Deep South. They get harassed for their
    accent. Seems like you just cannot satify these mid-westerners….
    Also, the article totally missed the point of why there are so many non-native English speakers in certain fields. They treat the Americans so badly that we
    either do not pursue graduate education in these fields or we get kicked out for not writing well enough if we do not fit their idea of what is their perfect student. This is if we make it through the classes that are taught so badly that only those with master’s degrees coming in can get through them, which are mostly the students from East and South Asia. The
    irony is that in these fields the profs are more than willing to write the papers for the non-native speakers. The profs sometimes get mad at the American students for not knowing how to write because we are expected to correct the written English of the non-native speakers.  
    Finally, if North Dakota wants to see what happends when you put through this type of legislation, they should look at Illinois. What it has done is make it more difficult for Asians born and raised in the US to get into these programs. We get letters sent to us when we apply saying that it would be in our best interest not to apply because people from our countries, based on our last names, would have a difficult time gaining entrance into their programs and that we should not apply.
    This happends to American students with Asian sounding last names applying within the US with degrees from US universities on a regular basis to the chemistry department at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. (Why is it always the chemistry departments …..........)
    I was sent one of these letters when I applied for the 1993 entering class.
    In my case I am a third generation Japanese/Chinese American with a mother who is an alumna of U of I, although from another department.
    I do agree that training of non-native English speakers needs to improve. However, the greater question is how do we improve the way graduate students and applicants of Asian ancestry (US born and foreign born) are treated in the ivory towers? This question encompasses not only what was discussed in the article of how students view us, but also how the profs and the rest of the administrative complex treat us.
       —Gwynne Osaki    Apr. 4 '05 - 11:03PM    #