The University of Ottawa has a diversified student body, not only is it a bilingual University that combines both the French and English cultures of Canada; it is also home to a plethora of different ethnic groups and cultures. The professors at the University are no exception to this. As a student at the University of Ottawa, chances are high that you will be taught by an international professor. While my linear algebra professor is absolutely wonderful and his lectures are very interesting, the fact that he pronounces “total” as “too too”, and “variables” as “wariables”, makes his lectures a bit confusing at times. Whether your professors come from Thailand, Brazil, Sweden, Africa, or China, they offer both direct and indirect international aspects to the classroom. However, even though these professors can enhance your learning experience by perhaps providing anecdotes from their country to supplement a lecture, or by comparing the differences in cultures; there are some advantages and some disadvantages to having international professors.
We are constantly taught in classes, youth groups, clubs and teams that communication is one of the most important aspects in life. Yet, as students, we come across professors that cannot efficiently communicate their vast mountains of knowledge! This can be very frustrating at times, for both newer and older students. So what do you do? Bring a translator to class? Or not go to class? While international professors might be hard to understand, they can teach you a lot and not just from a cultural perspective. International professors do bring a certain foreign flair to a classroom, but they also teach you the art of listening. Listening is a hard enough concept in it of itself, but it becomes all the more important and difficult when your professor carries a different accent than yourself. So get off Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even Pinterest, follow along slowly and carefully and you’ll learn that perhaps your international professor is one of the best you have ever had.
Bear in mind that communication is a two-way street. If you do not understand something, ask a question! Surely that does not require a translator. For the most part, your professor completely realizes they have a heavy accent. My Brazilian calculus’ Teacher Assistant laughs at herself for not being able to pronounce ‘parabola’!
Unfortunately, if you are a student in the French immersion program, you might encounter further difficulties. The French immersion program at the University of Ottawa is carefully thought out and provides many opportunities for students to improve their French in a predominantly francophone environment. However, when you are used to being taught in a Parisian French accent, coming to Ottawa and being surrounded by many Québécois can be difficult. Their accents are much different than what many are used to; as are the professor’s accents. Again, with patience and listening comes improvement. It may be frustrating, but take your time, read aloud, listen intently and success will naturally come along.
It is a true blessing that we are studying in the Nation’s Capital and are surrounded by so many cultural experiences – both in and out of the classroom. When faced with a professor with international roots, walk into the class with a high head and an open ear – who knows, you might just learn something!
wikipedia.org & uottawa.ca