Conversation Skills & International Students

Most international students have learned English as a foreign language from textbooks in a classroom, not as a second language while surrounded by native speakers every day. Therefore, their knowledge of the many structural differences between written and spoken English is still being developed. Exposure to the context of spoken English in its natural environment can create anxiety and discomfort for these students; they may appear to have difficulty grasping classroom discourse, collaborating with domestic students on group work, or understanding the objectives of the class.

This session explores strategies to assess international students’ understanding, reduce their anxiety about being understood by their professors and peers, and help them become fully engaged and more confident about the course material.

Acculturation & Strategies for International Students

Conversation Skills & International Students is part of a series of five interactive workshops about supporting international students. These sessions offer research-based intercultural teaching strategies, as well as guidance and support for challenges of sociocultural adaptation and language competency.

The sessions are presented by Academic Learning Services in The Studio for Teaching & Learning, and are designed and delivered by Muhammad Elhabibi, an Academic Learning Specialist who facilitates the language learning process for international students at SMU. Mr. Elhabibi has 35 years of teaching experience in multiple countries and learning contexts, including three Canadian universities. The series was originally designed for instructors, but may also be of interest to Saint Mary’s University staff who work closely with international students.

To request one or more workshops in this series, email

  1. International Students & Academic Acculturation

  2. Conversation Skills & International Students

  3. Academic Writing & International Students

  4. Emotional Attunement & International Students

  5. Cross Cultural Challenges in the Classroom