Help Your International Student Avoid Struggle & Find Academic Success

We want to provide some helpful insight for our host families on helping students avoid a mid-year slump. One effective thing you can do to help your student have a successful school year is to talk about how to set goals with your student and ask for help. By helping your student set measurable goals and objectives, you can help them focus on having a productive year and prevent procrastination or other reasons for a mid-year slump.

Keep in mind that some students may not have had these types of conversations before, so doing a walkthrough and role-playing game may be useful.

Here are some ideas:

Goal: I will have four extended conversations with American Students at school every week. For example, “How are you?” and listen for the answer then ask a follow-up question such as, “Is there a way I can help you?” or “I am glad you are doing well. Do you like…?” Listen, then share yourself.

  • Try role-playing the situation with your student.
  • You: Hi! I’m Susan. How are you?”
  • Them: “Hey, I’m Joanne. I’m good.”
  • You: “That’s good. Do you like Chemistry?”
  • Them: “No, not really. Hate it, actually.”
  • You: “What is it about Chemistry that makes you hate it so much?”
  • Them: “It’s too hard, and I hate chemical equations.”
  • You: “I like them. I can help you if you’d like.”
  • Them: “Yeah?”
  • You: “Sure, I’d be happy to help.”
  • Them: “Great!”

Goal: I will ask for help from my teachers when I am not performing well or a family member when at home.

Cambridge is here to help you support our students. International students may not be used to advocating for themselves. Your Student Development Manager is always there for assistance, but self-advocacy is important to their success here in America. The next goal might be asking for help at least three times before December. This might look like:

  • [The Student barely passed their English test. They have no idea what to do. The student decided they will just study harder next time. BUT the student should be strongly encouraged to ask for help.]
  • Host: Lucy, I know you were hoping for a higher score on the English test. Would you like any support in asking Ms. Johnson for help?
  • Student “No. I will study harder.”
  • Host: “Lucy, I can see you are already studying very hard. English is a difficult language to learn. I am confident that Ms. Johnson would enjoy helping you and see that you are not only smart but brave to ask. This is a strength. Would you like me to go with you when you ask her?”
  • Lucy: “No. I will do it tomorrow.”
  • You: “I am proud of you, Lucy. Seeking help makes us stronger, and we will all definitely help you to understand English and perform well on the tests. Let me know how it goes.”

Goal: spend at least three 45 min sessions a week with your host family outside of dinner. Take in a TV show, help your host mom out, share a video of China with your hosts (ones on the food, festivals, schools, lifestyle are interesting and helpful).

Food can be a big part of the mid-year slump. Students often really miss home and familiar foods. Students can feel even more alone without “comfort food” that they are accustomed to at home.

  • Make weekly trips to the Asian Market and ask them to get snacks, spices, porridge, etc. that they like.
  • Ask your student to show you how to make some of their favorite meals. Being their sous chef, helps them to take ownership of this task—who knows this could become weekly fun! We have a whole list of fun recipes to try!
  • Have dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant.
  • It is important to understand that in China, food is an expression of love. The more the student enjoys the food, the more they may feel loved and cared for by a host/parent. Not all meals need to be Asian inspired; students are here for an American experience after all. But simply that food (fresh, homemade, flavorful) sends a more powerful message than you think. Do not feel insulted if students are not quick to like your cooking; American food can be an acquired taste. Be patient and ask for their input.

Making it through the mid-year slump can be a challenge but lean on your Student Development Manager to work through any trouble spots.

Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider, tips for hosting, and our host testimonials. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!

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