Letter-to-the-Editor: Monday lead story highlights contribution of international faculty, opinion page dissapoints
The GVSU learning community is very fortunate to have International Faculty as a key component of the faculty. According to GVSU’s Office of Human Resources, 18 percent of current faculty can be considered “international,” with education and/or childhood outside the USA. Overwhelmingly, faculty and staff at GVSU consider the fact that many of our colleagues are international as a tremendous asset, and one of the many reasons why we enjoy working and teaching here at GVSU. The perspectives they bring to classrooms, faculty meetings, and administration benefit all students. In 2011, University of Kansas researchers published a study showing that university faculty members born and educated outside of the United States are “significantly more productive than their peers.” Therefore, I applaud the Lanthorn on highlighting the contributions of Prof. Aziz Molla and other colleagues in the front page article in its Monday, Jan. 14 2013 issue.
But I was surprised and dismayed at the Lanthorn’s editorial, and student “survey,” within the same issue. It was so disappointing because it portrayed international faculty in an inaccurate and negative way: that international faculty “with heavy accents make it harder for students to learn” (p. A4). All faculty hired to teach courses at GVSU are fluent in English. Not all of us use Midwestern USA vocabulary, intonation, and pronunciation—and that is appropriate: there are many “world Englishes” used in education, commerce, and transportation around the world, all of them intelligible to English speakers. Every day, planes are safely landed by native Farsi-speaking pilots who are talking with native Danish speakers, and so on. English is the lingua franca. What may be needed is an openness and intention of successful communication so that one gets quickly accustomed to alternate tone, vocabulary, and cadences. Initially, it does take some effort for someone who’s not been exposed to the way English is spoken around the world. But it is certainly possible…and worth it.
Padnos International Center