University of Vermont

Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching International and Multilingual Students

Who are UVM’s international and multilingual students?

While this seems like such a simple question, the answer is in fact complex. Some of our international students are monolingual native English speakers, while some of our multilingual students are not foreign nationals.

International Students

UVM enrolls over 900 students at the doctoral, master’s, undergraduate and non-degree levels. Our students hail from 65+ countries, with China sending the largest percentage of our international students (consistent with trends across U.S. higher education). Other top sending countries are Canada, India, Nigeria, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

International students represent 5% of our undergraduate student population (up from 1% in 2010), reflective of increased enrollment among international students nationally. International students represent 10% of our graduate population. In spite of recent growth, UVM’s international population as a percentage of our student body remains significantly less than most peer and aspirant public research universities.

In addition to degree-seeking students, UVM hosts two types of non-degree international students: Exchange students and Global Gateway Program students (at the pre-undergraduate and Pre-Master’s Programs levels). Exchange students are completing their degree at a university in another country, but are studying abroad at UVM for one semester or one year; in exchange, a UVM student studies abroad at that student’s home institution or a consortium partner institution. Global Gateway Program students are conditionally accepted to UVM at the undergraduate or master’s levels pending successful completion of a one-, two-, or (undergraduate only) three-term pathway preparation program focusing on academic English, U.S. academic culture and distribution requirements.

Some of our international students are native English speakers or have been speaking English since elementary school (such as students from Australia or Scandinavia, respectively). For non-native English-speaking students, specific minimum scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language or equivalent are required for admission to UVM as a matriculated undergraduate, as a matriculated graduate student, or as a pathway program student.

Regardless of a student’s academic English proficiency, international students’ transition to study in the US includes adjustment to American teaching and testing methods, which commonly differ significantly from those in the student’s home country, and unfamiliarity with certain U.S. cultural or historical references if not explained.

Multilingual students

While many of our multilingual students are international students, many others are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who were raised in homes where a language other than English was spoken and who attended high school (and perhaps all of their primary and secondary schooling) in the U.S. Whereas these students are likely to have a greater command over U.S. cultural or historical references than their foreign national peers, some will experience similar challenges in academic writing. UVM does not currently have data on the language spoken at home by our students, but is exploring how to systematically capture this data for future student intakes.

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