Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Witsel, M 2003, 'Teaching and learning issues in the multicultural classroom', Proceedings of Effective Teaching and Learning Conference, Brisbane, 6-7 November, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld.


As the Western educational system becomes more geared to multicultural society, and a need to find funding outside the usual paddock of local students and research projects emerges, more pressure is being exerted on tertiary institutions to open their doors to foreign students. This paper explores the intercultural communication issues facing the lecturer teaching in the multicultural classroom. The original research draws on studies of Dutch lecturers and ancillary staff upon teaching (in English) within the multicultural tertiary classroom, in locations across the Netherlands, Belgium and Indonesia. However, additional findings emerged which allow for an interpretation of the impact of functioning in a professional sense with students from different cultural backgrounds, irrespective of the lecturer’s cultural background. Working with a diverse, multicultural classroom has an impact on the lecturer’s sense of self, on matters of trust, and on confidence. The paper also explores the impact of variations in students’ learning styles, logic structures, high and low context communication, and metalinguistic communication. The implications of the use of a second language and the effect on the speaker are investigated, and as a consequence the impact of varying levels of English-language competency can be seen to be quite significant. Both student and lecturer can be seen in many cases to relinquish a level of control that previously had been taken for granted. Finally, the paper suggests some tactics – both practical and attitudinal - which will aid lecturer and student in more effective teaching and learning in the multicultural classroom.