Students’ background has been quite diverse every time when I have taught in English. Not only have they come from all over the globe, they also have had very different subjects as a major. That has forced me to think how much I can assume them to know about the topics in question beforehand. For example, this autumn I gave a lecture in a course called “Crises, conflicts and security” and before my lecture I had to consider, how it is possible to make political science’s perspectives understandable to an industrial engineering student from the Netherlands (just to name an actual example).
As a solution, I have attempted to illustrate theoretical questions and concepts by giving practical examples as much as possible. For instance, when I tried to open up Finland’s Internal Security Strategy (published by Ministry of the Interior), I seek to demonstrate and visualize social risks by statistics and figures. One figure was about so-called NEETs – young people who are “Not in Employment, Education or Training”. I also tried to lighten the atmosphere in the lecture by showing a statistic concerning the proportions of causes of death by age groups in Finland in order to illustrate that Finland still is a relatively safe place to visit and live in.
In a nutshell, one of my most important EMI teaching methods is to use examples and illustrations. If they are chosen well, they crystallize main points of the topics in question. I also hope that they help those students to understand better what I am pursuing to teach who otherwise wouldn’t understand political science’s perspectives or generally my spoken English so well.
In case you are interested in what kind of illustrations I use in my EMI teaching, below is the figure about the causes of death in Finland. The source is Statistics Finland. 🙂