Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 4 April 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.



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Linguistic Diversity and Classroom Issues -
A Case Study of International Classrooms of
the International Islamic University Islamabad, Pakistan

Fauzia Janjua, Ph.D.


The problems of foreign students in classroom discourse in English have triggered a question, "how do the learners and the teachers deal with the classroom discourse in a multilingual teaching learning environment in times of linguistic complexity?"

Several African and Chinese students come to the International Islamic university with the linguistic proficiency over their native and national languages, for which they find no use in classroom; they have no knowledge of Urdu, that is the language of their peer group and they may not possess the required level of English language proficiency (in listening, reading and writing) even after the completion of the English language proficiency courses. As a result they miss out on several things happening in the classroom.

This study was planned to investigate the problems of a multilingual classroom and to propose solutions to deal with the issue. This paper has two objectives; the explanatory purpose, to help foreign students and teachers by understanding their difficulties. The second purpose is normative, to point towards better teaching-learning strategies by conceptualizing the linguistic problems associated with the classroom issues of international students. The research employs a case study methodology with the data collected through questionnaires from foreign students and their teachers. 110 students from different faculties of the university and 20 teachers from the same faculties constituted the sample of the study. The study found that Pakistani teachers may not always stick to English and may recourse to Urdu to deal with problems of the native Pakistani students, so the foreign learners need to learn Urdu (not a university requirement) in order to fit into Pakistani classrooms and the teachers need to devise strategies to address the linguistic issues of the foreign learners.

Key words: Linguistic Diversity, International Classroom, Learner's difficulties, teaching strategies


"Linguistic disability puts me into hot water; my classmates often leave me helpless because I cannot speak what I exactly want to say. I easily get lost in the classroom discourse, just because of missing a word. The worst situation occurs when I hear only sounds in the class without knowing what is going on". These are the words of one of my foreign students in response to my question, how do you deal with the classroom discourse in a multilingual teaching-learning environment?

Foreign enrollment is an integral part of International universities, and so is of the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI). A large intake of foreign students in different programmes of IIUI has been recorded since the birth of the university. A large percentage of foreign learners are likely to have difficulty in understanding the course contents, discomfort in class participation and find a heavy work load.

Most of the foreign learners joining IIUI have not even acquired those reading and writing abilities in English language, which Pakistani students have acquired by this level. They are, therefore, supposed to join the English language teaching classrooms where they start from a Basic English course, then intermediate and after the successful completion of the advanced English course they are allowed to join their respective faculties.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Fauzia Janjua, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of English
International Islamic University Islamabad

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