OCENET Tip Sheet #1:

OCENET Tip Sheet #1: Welcoming international Students to Your School




International students face many challenges upon arriving in Canada to attend an OCDSB school. For these students there are adjustments to new living arrangements with a Homestay family, there may be language barriers and major cultural differences to overcome, there is a new school environment with lots of new faces and names, and there may be very different curriculum expectations and classroom routines. These students are a long way from home and far from everything that is familiar. The vast majority of the students will make a very successful adjustment to life and school during their stay in Canada, but we can show care and support for our international students with some of these proven ways to help them make a less stressful and more successful transition to their new school:

  • Establish a series of standard school protocols for welcoming international students

  • Select a friendly staff member to welcome all international students and provide time and resources to assist with this designated role. Some schools have assigned a staff member to the role of “International Student Advisor” who acts as a “go-to” person and advocate for supporting international students and teachers

  • Provide an informal orientation tour of the school from student peers

  • Assign each international student a “buddy”

  • Introduce the “new” international students to other “experienced” international students at the school

  • Consider classroom assignments or timetabling international students along with at least one other student who speaks the same language

  • Give international students a copy of their timetable, being sure to explain how it works and checking for understanding

  • Introduce students to your school’s webpage

  • Invite international students to a formal group orientation meeting (within the first three weeks) which allows the students to get to know each other and enables the Principal or designate(s) to relay key information and answer questions from the students

  • Encourage international students to become involved in school life by informing them about student clubs, sports teams, and extracurricular opportunities

  • Display a world map or the flag(s) of the country of origin of your school’s international student(s) in a prominent location in the school

  • Learn how to say simple greetings such as “Hello” or “How are you today?” in the languages of your school’s international students

  • Inform staff about any international students before they arrive at the school

  • Host a lunch or reception for your international students within six weeks of the students arriving at your school

  • Know the stages of cultural transition [Honeymoon (may last for days, weeks to months), Frustration (about the 3rd month), Acceptance (about 6 months), Adaptation (after 6 months)] and monitor how well your international students are dealing with “culture shock”

  • Use funds the school receives for hosting international students to facilitate activities specifically for the international students, such as experiencing a “Canadian” outdoor activity or attending a cultural event representative of Canada.

  • Inform your Parent Council and school community on your school website and in newsletters about hosting international students and visitors at your school

  • Invite a member of the OCENET staff to make a presentation at a staff meeting on the benefits of international students bring to a school or on intercultural awareness

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