JOHNSON: Foreign professors… helping or hindering?

Lindsey Johnson

Are foreign professors here at Grambling actually helping or hurting? This is a question that would probably be a split decision if asked to 1,000 students.  After my own experiences with non-American teachers during my 4 years in undergrad, if someone asked me that question I would more than likely say they hurt more than help.

The most concerning issue in dealing with foreign instructors is the language in most cases. These professors normally come from non-English speaking countries, and even though most of them have been in America for 10 plus years, they still have very heavy accents. Some of them are aware of this fact, and are prepared to help you in understanding them. Others act like they are unaware and seem to be offended if you mention their accent.

I spent most of my time in undergrad taking classes in the College of Business. There, I encountered at least two foreign instructors a year.  I did not  have trouble understanding all of them, but at least half of them I did. I even went to my advisor and dean a couple times to address the issue. I used to do everything I could to avoid taking a foreign instructors course, but sometimes, there were no other options. The language and culture difference was not the only issue, but it was the most glaring one to me.

Another roadblock I had to get around in dealing with foreign professors was their extremely high standards. I do not want to sound biased or negative in saying this, but foreign students are usually better students than American ones. I have had several classmates who came from other countries just to attend Grambling, and they were all over achievers to say the least.  They took their studies very seriously and actually had to maintain a certain GPA to keep their scholarships.  Every foreign professor was once that perfectionist student, and they just grew up to be overachieving professors.  

Earning an ‘A’ in a foreign lecturer’s class is the most difficult thing to do, they are stricter and grade unnecessarily hard. They also seem to always teach the most difficult classes. I had foreign instructors teach all my math classes, half my business classes, and all of  the science classes I took. I was weak in math and science, and having professors I could barely understand never helped. I had to seek outside tutoring, frequently use their office hours, and never miss class just to make a ‘B’. I worked harder in these courses than any of my others, but I always felt like it was in vain because I could never really achieve higher than a ‘C’ on most assignments. They want you to be as over achieving as them in your work, but unfortunately, not everyone is built like that.

Overall, I have had below satisfactory experiences with foreign instructors, dealt with a lot of attitude, misunderstandings, questionably high standards and tough grading.  I overcame it all, but it was a challenge.  

In comparison to American instructors it was a noticeably different experience that took a little getting used to the first time dealing with it. I am certain at least one person who reads this article will agree.