International Students’ Integration in the Classroom: A Guide for Parents and Teachers


Migrating abroad can be challenging, although it usually offers better opportunities. It can become more complicated for children as they strive to cope in classrooms where the teachings are in another language than the one they understand.

Aside from migrating with their parents, students on their own migrate to other countries in search of quality education and career opportunities.

These students may find it difficult to integrate into their new classrooms seamlessly. Parents’ and teachers’ support during this period significantly impacts these students’ emotional, academic, and social adaptation in the classroom.

Teachers in countries where English is the local language usually provide accommodations for English language learners.

Who is an ELL student?

English language learners (ELLs), sometimes referred to as Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, are students whose native language is not English and who are yet to possess sufficient English language proficiency to fully access a curriculum that is in English.

There are two major categories of ELLs: those born in the U.S. but still struggle with speaking English, and those who immigrated to the U.S. The second category of ELLs typically possesses educational knowledge in their native language but has little or no English knowledge.

ELLs are the fastest-growing population of students in the United States K–12 school system. A report by the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) forecasts that by 2025, one in four public school students will be an ELL.

NCELA also estimated that over five million ELLs are enrolled in U.S. schools in grades K–12. California recorded the highest percentage, with over 20 percent of its K–12 students classified as ELLs.

What is accommodation for ELLs?

Accommodations for ELLs are changes and adjustments in the classroom to help non-native students succeed alongside their peers.

These adjustments are designed to support ELL students’ understanding of the content and their ability to demonstrate their knowledge, even though they are still developing their English skills.

Accommodations for ELL students are essential for a proper assessment of their tests, as grading them using the same parameters used for other students with a full grasp of the English language might not fully reflect their learning progress.

Some of the ways teachers provide accommodations for ELLs include providing them with bilingual dictionaries, minimizing their reading and writing tasks, and making them read text aloud.

Parents’ and teachers’ role in international students’ classroom integration

To understand where you come in as a parent or teacher in international students’ classroom integration, it is vital to know the common challenges they face in their new environment.

Language barrier

Learning a new language can be challenging for anyone, especially students under the pressure of urgently learning English. 

This may impact their participation and comprehension in the classroom.

Cultural differences

Culture can influence students’ education and classroom experiences. For instance, some cultures favor teachers as authoritarian, while others encourage a more collaborative approach. 

The change in educational styles and social norms can also contribute to international students learning difficulties.

Social isolation

For students, friends make school more fun and sometimes help with certain educational difficulties. Changing schools means ELLs will have to make new friends. 

This might take time and may be more challenging for ELLs who are introverts.

Here are some suggestions to promote a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment for ELLs:

For parents

  • Prepare your child for the new environment: While it is impossible to fully prepare your child for what awaits them in their new school taught in a different language, preparing their mind about possible events can go a long way.
  • Research the culture of the new country and how it influences their educational style and makes it different from the one your child is currently familiar with.
    This will help them know what to expect and prepare them better to handle the culture shock.
  • Collaborate with teachers: Make intentional efforts to collaborate with your child’s teachers to make the classroom integration seamless. Discuss with them your child’s strengths, challenges, and cultural background. Let them know you are interested in your child’s education, and they should not hesitate to ask questions in case any action of yours insinuates otherwise, probably due to cultural differences.
  • Encourage participation at home: Make sharing of the day’s school experience a routine in your home. Encourage your kids to talk about their school experiences, help them with their homework, and, if possible, teach them English language skills. 

This will help you identify where they need to improve and how the school can better help.

  • Connect with the school community: Join cultural groups with parents like you. Talking with people in such groups can help you get ideas on ways to better help your child.
  • Encourage your child to build friendships. Invite classmates over or encourage your child to get involved in extracurricular activities to make friends. Friendship with local students can significantly boost language skills.

For teachers

  • Create a welcoming atmosphere. Your actions toward ELLs go a long way toward building their confidence and adaptability in the classroom. Greet students warmly and treat them all equally without any prejudice. 

When giving a student special attention, ensure every student understands why to avoid them thinking you have favorites. 

  • Bridge the language gap: Learn about the student’s native culture and language to see things from their perspective. Use simple language when teaching, and paraphrase complex ideas. Make use of verbal, written, and visual aids during your teaching. 

For effective testing of their knowledge, you can use Responsive Translation Services to provide quality testing accommodations for ELLs.

  • Welcome cultural diversity: Learn about the students’s cultures and integrate them into lessons. If possible, discuss with their parents certain cultural celebrations the students cherish and acknowledge them in class.
  • Incorporate peer support: Pair international students with local classmates for mentoring or group projects. This can encourage them to make friends and feel more welcome at the school.
  • Leverage technology: Teachers can leverage numerous translation tools for preparing class notes to better explain complex topics to international students in a simple language they can easily grasp.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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