Scholar-In-Residence Cathryn Cushner Edelstein, of the Communication Studies Department, has released a book to help international students assimilate to American college life.
Excuse Me, Can You Repeat That? (Five Star Publications) is a reference guide designed to help international students adapt to language and cultural norms, as well as situations typical of a college setting.
“When international studies arrive on college campuses they often feel confused and isolated,” Edelstein said. “Oftentimes they don’t know what ‘RSVP’ means, what to wear, or when to show up.”
Emerson students played a role in the creation of Edelstein’s book – using social media to help her distribute a survey to international students that elicited 200 responses.
She said there are an increasing number of international students nationwide – with a significant amount from Southeast Asia – and colleges need to adapt their inclusiveness and teaching styles to accommodate them.
“Their classroom style is to sit and listen to lectures, and they’ve done that their entire lives,” Edelstein said. “They come here and on day one, they’re expected to jump in, raise their hands and speak up.”
Many students worry about their accents, which is something Edelstein encourages them to overcome.
“I try to get them more confident and not worry about how they’re saying it, but to say something,” she said.
Edelstein’s book also delves into common mispronunciations. “Getting rid of people’s accents is not my goal,” she said. “I try to get people to speak with clarity and communicate without frustration.”