A FHASS and CTL Initiative

Supporting Sheridan College’s Faculty and Staff to meet the needs of Sheridan’s multilingual and international student population

by Professors Ranya Khan (FHASS) and Carol Appleby (CTL)

A different norm on college campuses: No longer is the monocultural, monolingual English speaker the “average” or “normal” student (Canagarajah, 2006: 216).

Sheridan College’s student population aptly reflects linguist Suresh Cangarajah’s (2006) observation that North America’s post-secondary institutions are composed of a linguistically and culturally diverse student body.  While the “new norm” on college campuses contributes to the overall vibrancy of post-secondary institutions, it also poses challenges for faculty who require a greater understanding of how to meet the needs of their multilingual and culturally diverse students.  Today the “new norm” calls for educators who are sensitive and responsive to the unique differences of each student, and demands a willingness to implement instruction, communication, and learning through a more inclusive type of pedagogy with an eye to the multicultural lens.

Since the fall of 2013, Ranya Khan, a FHASS faculty member, and Carol Appleby, a CTL faculty member, have been designing and presenting professional development workshops that focus on ways to help Sheridan faculty support Sheridan’s multilingual and international students.  As such, these workshops aim to help Sheridan’s faculty identify the central issues and challenges in working with Sheridan’s multicultural student populations, and to consider best practices to support these students.

Attendees to the workshops are provided with information on how they can support Sheridan’s multilingual and international students’ acculturation and adjustment to the Canadian college environment, particularly in relationship of how culture, language, and prior educational experiences can impact international students’ adjustment and overall success to the Canadian college classroom. Though these workshops are not intended to be a quick fix or a ‘band-aid solution’ to what some Sheridan faculty members have identified as an overwhelming challenge, they can certainly be a great help to those who want to consider the integration of teaching and learning concepts that support the linguistic and academic needs of their multicultural students.  Such a pedagogical framework not only supports an educational culture of inclusivity, but also views the learner’s linguistic and cultural makeup as a positive contribution to the classroom environment.

Canagarajah, A.S. (2006).  Understanding critical writing.  In P.K. Matsuda, M. Cox, J. Jordan and C.  Ortmeier-Hooper (eds). Second-Language Writing in the Composition Classroom: A Critical    Sourcebook (pp. 210-224).  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s (Original work published in 2002).