Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 28, 2022

Sharing communicative responsibility: training US students in cooperative strategies for communicating across linguistic difference

  • Nicholas Close Subtirelu , Stephanie Lindemann EMAIL logo , Kris Acheson and Maxi-Ann Campbell
From the journal Multilingua


The internationalization of Anglophone universities could allow English-dominant students to benefit from experience with English speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, but US students have often complained of difficulty communicating with such instructors, especially International Teaching Assistants (ITAs). Research has largely focused on helping ITAs assimilate linguistically and culturally, although many applied linguists suggest that ITAs’ students would also benefit from training in skills for communication across linguistic difference, through attention to their language attitudes, familiarity with diverse Englishes, and communication strategies. We report on an intervention designed to address all three, here focusing on students’ willingness to engage in collaborative communication strategies. The intervention, conducted in a computer science department and reaching over 300 first-year students from varied linguistic backgrounds, included an online and an in-class component, each lasting about an hour. This brief intervention resulted in small but significant gains in domestic undergraduates’ (n = 174) stated intention to engage in collaborative behavior with their ITAs, although our detailed examination of qualitative responses suggests important areas for continued improvement of the intervention. We discuss the potential for such interventions to facilitate institutional and cultural change, encouraging the recognition of the shared responsibility for successful communication.

… after a while, like, when you realize you can’t really understand her, you just kinda zone out … (Charlotte, pseudonym)

… a lot of times, you can understand what they’re saying. It’s just whether you put in the effort to pay attention to them or let the accent distract you. (Kyle, pseudonym)

The above quotations (Subtirelu 2017: 259) from US university students discussing their communication with international teaching assistants (ITAs) illustrate an important point about communication across linguistic difference: while many applied linguists dedicate their careers to improving preparation of nonnative speakers to use an additional language, this preparation, no matter how effective, cannot guarantee that nonnative speakers will be understood and respected by their interlocutors. Indeed, the quotations suggest variation in how people orient to communication across linguistic difference, with Kyle highlighting how listeners can actively work to make communication successful, and Charlotte portraying communication with her ITA as hopeless.

This paper reports on an intervention designed to encourage students to adopt a more collaborative approach to interactions across linguistic difference. We began the project in response to a request for help from an academic department where many instructors, both graduate students and faculty, are nonnative users of English. The department asked for training for nonnative English-speaking instructors because undergraduate students complained of difficulties understanding lectures, a situation that has been reported numerous times in the literature (e.g., Bailey 1983; Fitch and Morgan 2003; Plakans 1997; Subtirelu 2017). We are concerned that the societal dominance of English in the US is reflected in the way that institutions of higher education in the US have historically privileged the perceptions and comfort of students who are heard and seen as native English users to the detriment of others whose English is characterized as deficient, including many instructors who originate from outside the US. Therefore, we countered the department’s initial request with evidence that an intervention for the undergraduate students would likely be more successful, given the important role of listeners in effective communication, and the department agreed to pilot the new curriculum. After discussing what previous research suggests is needed for such an intervention for English-dominant undergraduate students, and, to a lesser degree, other students, we describe the intervention in detail. We then evaluate its success based on student responses during the intervention itself as well as changes in their reported intentions to engage in collaborative behaviors.

1 Why teach communication strategies?

Applied linguists have long been aware of how the ideological concept of linguistic nativeness and those who are interpellated into the socially constructed category of “native speaker” might play a role in the problems that are often encountered in linguistically diverse spaces, such as the internationalizing Anglophone university. For example, Bailey (1983) and Tyler and Davies (1990) both suggest that US-born university students may need interventions to assist them in communicating in more productive and respectful ways with their ITAs. However, students’ roles have mostly been treated as impossible or impractical to address. For example, Kaplan (1989) acknowledges that US undergraduates’ prejudices toward their ITAs are “part of the problem”, yet argues that it would be impractical to challenge those prejudices because it would require “the re-education of the total population to greater acceptance of foreign accent” (123). Thus, the solutions that applied linguists have advocated for and that Anglophone institutions of higher education have adopted nearly always focus on remediating the language and cultural knowledge of those who are categorized as nonnative English speakers. In this way, Anglophone institutions of higher education and many applied linguists demonstrate an ideological commitment to the superiority of native English speakers’ ways of using language for academic communication (Jenkins 2011; Sterzuk 2015; Subtirelu 2017).

More recently, applied linguists have sought to challenge the language privilege that native English speakers carry into linguistically diverse spaces, like internationalizing universities. One approach has been to create interventions addressed at helping native English speakers improve their ability to communicate across linguistic difference. Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016) review this area of scholarship and lay out a framework for how native speakers’ contributions to communication across linguistic difference might be addressed, recommending three approaches: ameliorating negative attitudes toward nonnative Englishes, familiarizing people with unfamiliar accents, and encouraging the use of productive and respectful strategies for dealing with communication difficulty. While scholars have begun to explore the first two approaches (Kang et al. 2015; Lindemann et al. 2016; Manohar and Appiah 2016; Staples et al. 2014; Villarreal 2013), the final area, strategies for anticipating and dealing with communication difficulty, has received very little research attention.

In their overview, Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016) advocate teaching four types of strategies: ways of (1) alerting an interlocutor when nonunderstanding occurs, (2) repairing nonunderstanding and miscommunication, (3) checking that all parties have understood, and (4) accommodating one’s language to be maximally comprehensible to one’s interlocutor. For example, to alert an interlocutor to one’s nonunderstanding, research on English as a lingua franca has shown that strategies other than minimal noncomprehension signals (e.g. ‘Huh?’ or ‘What?’) are most effective (e.g., Mauranen 2006; Pickering 2009). An intervention thus might focus on providing native speakers with a greater range of strategies, such as repetition of the trouble spot with rising intonation. However, Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016) also note that it is unclear whether native speakers actually need to be introduced to new strategies. Adult language users seem to be able to repair communication difficulties and accommodate their interlocutors when communicating with people from similar linguistic backgrounds, raising the question of why some have been observed to neglect these strategies when communicating with nonnative speakers (Lindemann 2002; Lippi-Green 1994; Singh et al. 1988; Sweeney and Hua 2010). Because they may have, but do not habitually employ, transferable repair and accommodation skills, we argue that interventions for native speakers must address not only skill development but also attitudinal obstacles such as anxiety and lack of motivation.

The linguistic status difference that exists between native and nonnative speakers can make repair and accommodation socially fraught processes, as is evident from research reports about nonnative speakers’ perceptions of certain types of repair used by native speakers. In Canagarajah (2013), many transnational professionals reported that they perceived certain strategies, particularly requests for repetition, as a strategy their interlocutors used to position them as Others. Likewise, Au et al. (2017) found that English-speaking university students in Hong Kong showed evidence of greater embarrassment and anxiety, as well as more negative attitudes towards their native English-speaking interlocutor, when they experienced direct requests such as ‘Wait. Are you talking about a cup or a cub?’ (373). Together, these studies suggest that some attempts at repair can be received negatively by nonnative speakers.

Furthermore, some research has found that native speakers express reservations about initiating repair or accommodating to their interlocutors when engaging in communication across linguistic difference, often due to their recognition that such strategies may be received negatively. Drljača Margić (2017) surveyed 377 native English speakers about the social appropriateness of making adjustments to their language when communicating with nonnative speakers. She reports that about one-fifth of the respondents ‘doubt the appropriateness of adjusting English in communication’ with nonnnative speakers (42). One respondent explained that they were concerned that their nonnative English-speaking interlocutors would view them as condescending. In a study that focused on classroom dynamics, Subtirelu (2017) found that the potential social costs of attempting repair with their ITAs discouraged some of the US university students he interviewed from addressing communication difficulties when they arose. Some participants were concerned that repair attempts would be perceived as rude or would embarrass their ITAs. For example, one participant, Sofía, reported wishing that her ITA would ‘speak slower’ and ‘enunciate’ but suggested that it was socially problematic to request repair or accommodations. To support her view, she presented an example request: ‘Can you stop talking and just slow down and enunciate?’ (266). Subtirelu concludes that the students were right to be concerned with the interpersonal dimensions of repair, but that students sometimes appeared to see the face-threatening nature of repair as a justification for avoiding it, rather than as a reason to craft repair attempts with greater care.

The preferences many students have for remaining silent when they encounter difficulty understanding their nonnative English-speaking instructors often contradict the instructors’ own preferences for how students should handle classroom communication difficulties. Alberts et al. (2013) surveyed 44 early career geography instructors who were nonnative speakers of English. Roughly eighty-seven percent reported that they ask their students to raise their hands when they do not understand their speech, and a large majority of students in their study reported that they appreciated this request from their instructors (see also discussion of ITAs’ use of accent disclaimers in Subtirelu 2016: 211–215).

Subtirelu (2016, 2017, drawing on Lindemann (2002), found that the students in his study had two competing orientations to communication across linguistic difference: Collaboration and Avoidance. Orientations toward Collaboration often manifested as apparent preference for working directly with ITAs to ensure that communication was successful. Behaviors exemplifying an orientation toward Collaboration included making deliberate efforts to understand ITAs, engaging in interactive repair with the ITA as needed, seeking out the ITA for help, and welcoming opportunities to improve their own abilities to communicate across linguistic difference. In contrast, students who preferred an Avoidance orientation tended to report that communication with ITAs was inefficient or even futile and that, as a result, they sought alternatives to interaction with ITAs. Behaviors exemplifying an orientation towards Avoidance included avoiding registering for courses with ITAs, not listening closely when ITAs spoke, and not engaging in repair when communication difficulty occurred. Students preferring Avoidance also sought alternative sources of information such as textbooks, other instructors, and online videos.

The research we have reviewed in this section suggests that, in contexts like the ITA-taught classroom, communication across linguistic difference might be facilitated by interventions that encourage everyone, especially those whose language has been privileged by US institutions of higher education and the wider society, to engage in Collaboration. Our approach not only presents participants with potentially unfamiliar strategies for repair or accommodation but also addresses the concerns they have about the social dynamics of communication across linguistic difference. Ultimately, our intervention was designed to help guide a linguistically diverse group of undergraduate students toward more successful communication across linguistic difference with their instructors and peers. In our analysis here, we focus on the effectiveness of this intervention for those students whose language backgrounds are privileged in US society, including their university. In the next section, we provide an overview of the intervention and its context.

2 The intervention

The intervention was designed in cooperation with the Computer Science (CS) department at a large university in the US Midwest for inclusion in a first-year seminar that prepares students for academic and career success. After negotiating intended learning outcomes and intervention design with faculty, we created a 2-hour unit, approximately an hour of online individual work and an hour of in-class activities. The unit also incorporated pre- and post-testing. Although the first-year seminar is not mandatory for CS students, over 90% of new majors elect to take it.

Three hundred thirty-two students completed the online module, 273 of whom also completed the in-class module. Of the students completing both modules, 75 reported being from a country other than the US. After dropping data from international participants and 24 domestic participants whose data we determined did not show an earnest effort (e.g., because they completed the post-test in less than 1 min or because they entered random letters into the text entry boxes), we were left with 174 participants who self-identified as being from the US and who we determined completed the study satisfactorily. Although we do not have information on the specific varieties spoken by our participants, over half of the domestic students in the college are from the same state as the university and approximately three-quarters are from Midwestern states altogether; three-quarters are likewise White, with the second-largest group being Asian. Thus, we can expect that most participants not only were native speakers of English, the language privileged by the university, but were likely to speak a variety that is privileged in the university context.

While the training was initially proposed in reaction to native English-speaking domestic students’ complaints about ITAs, CS faculty also requested training for international students, preferably on US English varieties. Although this option was eventually put in place, there was insufficient time to develop it before the first offering of the intervention. The original complaints as well as the literature suggested that the domestic undergraduates were in greater need of training in listening strategies, because, due to their language being privileged societally and institutionally, they are less likely to have had extensive cross-linguistic experience or recognize the need to adapt to those speaking unfamiliar varieties of English. Because international students sometimes also have complaints or difficulty with other speakers from outside the US and could find the training helpful, the curriculum was offered to all students as the CS faculty requested. However, the analysis here focuses on the domestic students who were the primary target audience of the curriculum.

The unit we designed drew on the research literature reviewed by Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016). It incorporates elements from each of the priorities they identify: attitudes toward nonnative speech, familiarity with nonnative accents, and strategies for ensuring successful communication. Although all three priorities were addressed in our unit, in this paper, we focus on our attempt to encourage students to commit to engaging in Collaboration and thus to using respectful and productive strategies for ensuring successful communication across linguistic differences, since, of the three priorities, the third has received the least attention from researchers.

Table 1 provides an overview of the intervention as well as data sources analyzed in this paper. Course instructors introduced the modules by discussing their value for student and career success. They urged students to engage seriously in the self-directed learning of the online module, and clarified that grading was based on completion rather than on their specific responses. They also announced that a guest facilitator would join the class for in-person activities that would build on the online module. In the next two sub-sections, we describe the intervention in greater detail.

Table 1:

Intervention components and sources of data for the current study.

Component Data analyzed
Pretest: responses to nonnative instructor scenarios Quantitative data
Lecture 1: Linguistic diversity and the cooperative approach
  Reflection questions: Responses to reflection questions
   What skills do you already have?
   How could you develop new strategies?
Lecture 2: How and why accents differ
  Quizzes testing understanding
Lecture 3: Chinese and Indian Englishes
   Chinese accents, transcribing individual sentences
   Indian accents, mini-lectures
Scenarios with Yousef, Egyptian ITA in 1) class 2) office hours. Responses to these scenarios
  What could you do when you don’t understand?

Group discussion: strategies to use with ITAs Strategies shared in discussion
Imagining oneself as ITA (perspective-taking)
Presentation and discussion of working against vs. working across linguistic difference
Small group activity: native and nonnative speakers produce list of strategies for working together Lists from groups
Posttest: Responses to nonnative instructor scenarios Quantitative data
Other feedback on the module Optional comments (19 students)

2.1 Online module

The online module was structured around three video lectures presented by three of the authors of this paper. Each of these lectures was followed by skills practice or reflection. After responding to demographic questions and a pre-test survey (discussed below), the participants viewed the first video lecture (full script in Appendix A). The lecture began by suggesting that learning about linguistic diversity would be beneficial for CS students because of the international nature of the university and the technology industry. The lecture pointed out that, although people using English as a lingua franca in such settings speak ‘different Englishes’, research has shown that they can successfully communicate about complex topics. The lecture attributed the success of communication across linguistic difference in these settings to the ‘common cooperative approach’ that the interlocutors adopt. It then focused specifically on the role that listeners play in this cooperative approach through the analysis of a sample scenario. Finally, the lecture suggested that participants probably already know many strategies that they could use to help them communicate across linguistic difference and recommended practicing these strategies by seeking out conversations with people who speak differently than they do. Following the first video lecture, the module presented participants with two reflection questions, with text entry boxes for participants to enter open-ended responses:

  1. What skills do you have that would help you communicate with people who have a different accent from you?

  2. What could you do to develop new strategies for effective communication with people who speak differently from you?

The second lecture presented information about the diversity of Englishes spoken in the world, taking an explicit approach to introducing unfamiliar accents. As Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016) argue, such explicit approaches may have two possible effects. First, they may present information pertinent to understanding particular accents and thus help people better understand nonnative speech. While most studies find no improvement in participants’ comprehension of nonnative speech after being exposed to this kind of information (Derwing et al. 2002; Kubota 2001; Villarreal 2013), Lindemann et al. (2016) found improved comprehension of individual sentences for their participants who received explicit instruction on features of Korean English. Second, explicit instruction about accent diversity may encourage participants to engage in perspective-taking, or the act of imagining ‘the world from another’s vantage point’ (Galinsky et al. 2005: 110), which has been associated with the development of more positive attitudes toward outgroups. By learning why ‘nativelike’ pronunciation is difficult to acquire in a later-learned language, participants “may come to better understand L2 speakers’ struggles and to see their unfamiliar accents not as a sign of ‘incompetence’ but as a feature of linguistic diversity stemming in part from constraints on L2 acquisition” (Subtirelu and Lindemann 2016: 773).

The lecture presented common differences between the sound systems of English and other languages and phonological processes common in nonnative Englishes, in order to explain how and why accents occur and provide tools to identify the patterns inherent in accents. This second lecture was longer than the first and was therefore broken into two shorter segments to maximize learner engagement. After each segment, participants were assessed on how well they understood the material through comprehension questions, a step that Lindemann et al. (2016) argued was relevant to the success of their explicit training in contrast to other studies. An explanation of the correct response was presented after the participants responded to the items, encouraging participants to review the material before moving on to the next segment.

The third lecture continued this discussion of variation in Englishes and introduced the listening practice by briefly introducing the idea of Chinese and Indian Englishes. These varieties were chosen for the listening training to reflect the demographics of the CS students and faculty at this institution, where a wide range of countries of origin is dominated by China and India. The lecture discusses these varieties, arguing that while there is internal heterogeneity in the way that both Chinese and Indian people speak English, there are also commonalities that the participants might notice.

After the third lecture, the participants were given the opportunity to practice listening to both Chinese and Indian speakers, using an implicit approach (i.e., practice with rather than description of different language varieties) designed to familiarize them with nonnative accents (Subtirelu and Lindemann 2016). First, participants heard four Chinese English speakers each reading different sets of five simple sentences. After each sentence, the participants attempted to transcribe what they heard. They were then given immediate feedback on what the speaker said and the option to listen again. After all twenty sentences, they were prompted to generate ideas about interactive strategies they could use to address any difficulties in real-life communicative situations. Next, participants heard two Indian English speakers each deliver a 1-min informative lecture about advances in technology and answered multiple-choice questions about each. Afterwards, they were again asked to describe how they might deal with communication difficulties in real-life situations.

After all of these activities, the participants were presented with two final scenarios. These scenarios (Appendix B) were based on the kinds of communicative situations documented in research on ITA-student communication (e.g., Chiang 2009; Subtirelu 2017) as well as relevant studies of classroom discourse more generally (e.g., Artemeva and Fox 2011). One scenario depicted a communication difficulty between students and an ITA in a classroom setting, and the second focused on a one-to-one interaction during office hours. The participants were asked to describe what they could do to improve communication in these situations. Completion of the online module was due before class.

2.2 In-person activities

After completing the online module, participants met in their regular CS seminar sections. There were 9 sections total, each with about 35 students enrolled. One of the authors served as guest facilitator for all of the 50-min sessions. In this face-to-face module, students participated in a series of activities designed to explore ways of communicating across linguistic difference, now as part of a larger community.

The facilitator began with a question about students’ impressions of the online module. Next, students were asked to articulate why they thought the unit had been added to their first year seminar course and what value it could have for them now as students and later as CS professionals. Then, the facilitator asked students to think back to the online module’s hypothetical scenarios involving an ITA and brainstorm strategies to effectively and respectfully communicate across linguistic difference. As students contributed possible strategies, the facilitator added their responses to a document projected on a screen at the front of the classroom.

Next, the facilitator led the students in a perspective-taking activity designed to develop a Cooperation orientation by (a) developing empathy and (b) motivating repair and accommodation behaviors they may not habitually use. She asked the participants to imagine that they were the ITA and then to write down responses to two prompts. The first asked ‘What do you think it is like to not be understood?’ and prompted students to complete the statement ‘I would feel …’. The second asked students ‘What might you want from students?’. Students were prompted to complete two statements: (1) ‘In class, I would want students to …’ and (2) ‘In one-to-one interactions, I would want …’. These activities were loosely based on other perspective-taking activities that have been shown to be effective at improving native speakers’ attitudes toward nonnative speakers (e.g., Manohar and Appiah 2016; Weyant 2007). After the students had written down their responses, the facilitator asked them to share their responses and added to the list of strategies that the group had already begun generating.

The facilitator then presented a distinction between ‘working against linguistic difference’ and ‘working across linguistic difference’, concepts that are similar to the Avoidance and Collaboration orientations we discussed above. Working against linguistic difference was described as seeing the cause of communication problems in linguistically diverse spaces as some speakers’ deviations from ‘standard’ language, which structures the burden for successful communication and ‘adaptation’ unfairly. In contrast, working across linguistic difference was described as seeing linguistic diversity as the norm and expecting all parties to cooperate to make sure communication is successful. After introducing these contrasting terms, the facilitator asked the students to discuss what the concepts mean to them, where they might have previously witnessed or experienced contexts where people tend to work against linguistic difference, and what the benefits of working across linguistic difference might be for them personally.

Finally, the facilitator assigned participants to small groups, each including a mix of self-identified native and nonnative English speakers. The students were instructed to imagine that they were working on a group project and were planning the ‘rules of engagement’ or communication norms for the group. Each group was responsible for producing a list of guidelines or strategies they thought would help to ensure effective communication and a successful group project. The purpose of this activity was to give participants an opportunity to discuss strategies with peers from a different linguistic background, gaining ideas for new techniques and feedback about strategies they might feel reluctant to use. Several minutes before collecting group lists, the facilitator asked students to take note of how balanced the responsibility for communication seemed in their strategies, and to intentionally create more balance in cases where either speakers or listeners were underrepresented in their responsibilities. While this request for balance was not originally planned, it was implemented in all nine sessions after occurring organically in the first, when the facilitator noticed how predominantly speaker strategies such as ‘speak clearly’ or ‘talk slowly’ appeared on the lists-in-progress. Finally, while still in class, via a QR code and link, participants electronically completed a post-test with the option to make comments about all or any part of the intervention.

3 Evaluating the intervention

In this section, we evaluate the effectiveness of our intervention with particular attention to whether it affected domestic students’ orientations toward communication with ITAs. Although international students also participated in the intervention, as previously discussed, we present outcomes only for domestic students (n = 174, 134 male) here, since the literature indicates that this target audience presents the greatest opportunity for improving communicative effectiveness across linguistic differences. In this section, we present quantitative evidence that the intervention caused observable changes in these participants’ orientations to communication with their nonnative English-speaking instructors. In addition to this statistical evidence, we analyze qualitative data to provide greater insight into what the statistical evidence appears to demonstrate about the nature of the observed changes.

3.1 Data collection and analysis

Drawing on Subtirelu’s (2016, 2017 ethnographic work, we constructed a questionnaire to operationalize students’ orientations toward communicating across linguistic difference with their nonnative English-speaking instructors in order to quantify outcomes from our intervention in pre- and post-tests. Our approach to the questionnaire construction is influenced by the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen 1991) in that it measures reported behavioral intentions, which have been frequently demonstrated to be strong predictors of future behavior (e.g. Bamberg and Möser 2007). Subtirelu and Gopavaram (2016) applied this approach to examine the effects of information about instructors’ language on students’ intentions to register for courses they teach. Our questionnaire extends earlier efforts by measuring students’ intentions to engage in several other behaviors identified in Subtirelu (2017).

In our questionnaire, participants were presented with a scenario in which a course they needed was being taught by a native-Mandarin-speaking instructor from China, the most common background of international instructors in the department, and asked to report on a five-point scale how likely they would be to engage in each of twelve behaviors (Tables 2 and 3). Participants responded to this questionnaire once before the online module (pre-test) and again after the in-class module (post-test). Time between pre- and post-tests ranged from two to three weeks. We assigned lower numeric values to responses indicating less willingness (1 = ‘very unlikely’) and higher values to responses indicating higher willingness (5 = ‘very likely’).

Table 2:

Results for students’ reported intentions to engage in Collaboration with a nonnative English-speaking instructor.

# Text Means (SD) Pre- to post-test change (n) Wilcoxon results
Pre Post More likely None Less likely V p *
1 How likely would you be to choose a section of [a CS course] taught by Dr. Chen next semester? 3.3 (1.0) 3.2 (0.9) 35 103 36 1,452 0.30
3 How likely would you be to put in extra effort to understand Dr. Chen when listening to his lectures? 3.9 (0.9) 3.8 (1.0) 45 79 50 2,574 0.24
5 If you didn’t understand something from one of Dr. Chen’s lectures, how likely would you be to raise your hand immediately and ask for clarification? 2.4 (1.2) 2.9 (1.2) 80 63 31 1,208 <0.001 *
7 If each student was working independently on a lab assignment during class and you asked Dr. Chen for individual help but did not understand his initial explanation, how likely would you be to ask him for clarification? 3.9 (1.1) 4.1 (1.0) 52 84 38 1,655 0.10
9 If you had questions about the instructions for a homework assignment Dr. Chen gave, how likely would you be to seek his help during office hours? 3.3 (1.1) 3.4 (1.1) 58 70 46 2,375 0.23
11 How likely would you be to try to learn more about Dr. Chen’s language and background on your own time so that you could communicate better with him? 2.2 (1.1) 2.6 (1.2) 64 87 23 820 <0.001 *
Table 3:

Results for students’ reported intentions to engage in Avoidance with a nonnative English-speaking instructor.

# Text Means (SD) Pre- to post-test change (n) Wilcoxon results
Pre Post More likely None Less likely V p *
2 How likely would you be to try to switch sections after finding out that your instructor in [a CS course] would be Dr. Chen? 2.2 (1.0) 2.2 (1.0) 46 89 39 1,650 0.41
4 How likely would you be to zone out when listening to Dr. Chen’s lectures? 2.8 (1.0) 2.9 (1.1) 52 81 41 1,886 0.22
6 If you didn’t understand something from one of Dr. Chen’s lectures, how likely would you be to remain quiet and let the problem pass? 3.6 (1.1) 3.2 (1.1) 31 76 67 3,522 <0.001 *
8 If each student was working independently on a lab assignment during class and you asked Dr. Chen for individual help but did not understand his initial explanation, how likely would you be to say that you understand, wait until he walks away, and then search for help online? 3.0 (1.1) 3.0 (1.1) 55 65 54 2,953 0.89
10 If you had questions about the instructions for a homework assignment Dr. Chen gave, how likely would you be to ask a classmate instead of contacting him? 3.9 (0.9) 3.8 (1.0) 37 87 50 2,306 0.08
12 How likely would you be to assume that your knowledge of Dr. Chen’s language and background is not important or is not your responsibility? 3.2 (1.1) 2.8 (1.1) 32 68 74 4,065 <0.001 *

In addition to analyzing participants’ responses to the questionnaire, we considered their written responses to various questions throughout the online module and the in-person session. In particular, as described above, at the end of the online module participants were asked how they would respond to two scenarios—one in class and one in office hours—in which they were listening to an ITA, Yousef, explain mathematical proofs and having trouble understanding. We initially considered making Yousef Indian, representing the second-largest international group in the department, but decided that perceptions and assumptions about Indian English speakers might be too heterogenous, since many Indians are native English speakers and may be recognized by some participants as highly proficient in English. We therefore chose an Egyptian background, which would be widely assumed to be nonnative English speaking. The scenarios are similar to those presented in the questionnaire; both ask the participants to consider how they might respond to situations involving communication difficulty with a nonnative English-speaking instructor. However, the open-ended responses produced for the items about Yousef provide richer explanation of how the participants might proceed in the situations described as well as comments justifying their approach. In addition, 19 participants responded to the optional question at the end of the intervention (after the post-test) asking for any comments they had about their experience of the intervention. Together, this qualitative data provides a valuable complementary source of information about participants’ thinking.

The first author read through all of the responses and coded them according to whether they suggested an orientation toward Avoidance, Collaboration, or a combination of the two. In addition to coding each text, he made notes about surprising, unexpected, or intriguing strategies or justifications for strategies. In the next section we discuss the results from the quantitative analysis, then present examples from these responses.

3.2 Findings and discussion

In order to estimate the change in participants’ orientations toward communication across linguistic difference from before to after the intervention, we conducted Wilcoxon signed rank tests (a nonparametric within-subjects comparison) on each of the questionnaire’s twelve items (using a Bonferroni adjustment, α = 0.004), comparing participants’ reported intentions to engage in Collaboration and Avoidance on the pre- and post-tests. We found significant changes on four items. These included two items from the Collaboration set (Table 2): willingness to raise one’s hand immediately and ask for clarification during a lecture (95% CI [1.49, 0.50]) and willingness to learn more about an instructor’s language and background on one’s own time to improve communication (95% CI [1.00, 0.50]). The other two items were the corresponding items for the Avoidance set (Table 3): likeliness of remaining quiet and letting the problem pass when something in a lecture was unclear (95% CI [−0.50, −1.00]) and assuming that one’s own knowledge of the instructor’s language and background is not important or is not one’s own responsibility (95% CI [−0.50, −1.00]). In comparison to their responses on the pre-test, participants’ responses on the post-test shifted in the desired direction, toward increased intended Collaboration and decreased intended Avoidance, by approximately one half to one full point (or in the case of asking for clarification during a lecture, up to 1.5 points) on the five-point scale.

We also considered the results in terms of the number of participants who showed signs of desired changes in their reported intentions. While participants might change their responses for a variety of study-irrelevant reasons, we observed that two to three times as many of the participants shifted toward increased intended Collaboration as their counterparts who shifted toward Avoidance (e.g., 80 participants becoming more likely vs. 31 becoming less likely to ask for clarification during a lecture). We consider these changes to be desirable, in part because they bring most participants’ reported intended behaviors in line with the apparent desires of their instructors, as reported, for example, in Alberts et al. (2013).

Examining their open-ended responses to a similar situation provides the possibility for richer understanding of the participants’ reasoning and the complex socially-informed determinations that they make. Although at pre-test many participants reported that they would likely let communication difficulty pass in a situation where an instructor was speaking to the whole class (see Table 3, item 6), responses at the end of the online module to a very similar scenario in which an ITA, Yousef, was explaining proofs to a whole class reflected greater commitment to resolving the difficulty directly. In fact, of 174 responses, 158 reported that they would engage in some form of repair. Twenty-six mentioned strategies reflective of Avoidance orientations, including seeking other sources of assistance (23 participants) or doing nothing to deal with this situation (3 participants).

These frequency counts likely reflect the participants’ responses to the encouragement to engage in Collaboration they received from our intervention. However, when we more carefully consider how the participants report that they would attempt to engage in repair, it is clear that a reported willingness to engage in Collaboration does not necessarily lead to strategies that would productively and respectfully clear up communication difficulties. Excerpts (1) and (2) below exemplify responses that do not acknowledge the interpersonal complexities of repair.

You ask a question dummy [P16]
Ask for clarification or simply explain that you are finding it hard to understand him. He should not get offended because he must be aware of his own accent. As a result, he could explain the material once more, paying closer attention to his pronunciations and possibly speaking slower. Thus solving the problem. [P142]

Asking a nonspecific question, as in (1), or requesting repetition, as in (2), were common responses to this item. As we suggested in our review of the literature, nonnative speakers may experience nonspecific questions (e.g., what did you say?) or requests for repetition as microaggressions emphasizing their perceived Otherness (e.g., Canagarajah 2013). Hence, the strategies recommended by the students above do not fully address the interpersonal complexities of the situation.

Other responses like the one in (3) show a greater engagement with these interpersonal complexities.

I could ask him to clarify on some of the bits of the proof that i did not understand. I personally hope that my mind did not go blank throughout the entire proof, so i would ask him to clarify specific portions that either i didnt understand due to his accent or because i truely did not get it. Either way i would just direct my question with the response that i did not understand the content, to not insult or offend him. [P10]

In particular, the participant who wrote (3) shows awareness that repair requests can be interpreted negatively and suggests an approach that attributes blame for the communication difficulty to challenges with course content rather than the instructor’s language. In contrast, the participant who wrote (2) argues that Yousef ‘should not get offended because he must be aware of his own accent’, suggesting a lack of sensitivity to the anxiety about their Englishes that many ITAs experience (Zhu and Bresnahan 2021). Furthermore, the participant who wrote (3) also notes that, at the end of an extensive explanation, specific clarification questions would be more appropriate than non-specific requests for repetition like that suggested in (2). Such observations reveal that willingness to attempt repair with nonnative speakers is perhaps necessary but insufficient for ensuring that native speakers respectfully and productively communicate across linguistic difference. These data suggest that future interventions would benefit from providing greater attention to considering interpersonal complexities.

We now consider the number of participants who showed signs of desired changes in their reported willingness to learn about their nonnative English-speaking instructors’ backgrounds. Again, nearly three times as many participants shifted toward a Collaboration orientation as toward an Avoidance orientation on these items. We consider this change to be particularly desirable in that it shows participants’ greater commitment to acknowledge and examine ways in which they contribute to communication difficulty.

Related data comes from participants’ responses to a question from near the beginning of the online module, in which they were asked ‘What could you do to develop new strategies for effective communication with people who speak differently than you?’ Their answers provide insight into how the initial video prompted them to consider how they might contribute to improving communication across linguistic difference. Below are two responses:

I can talk to friends of mine who are from a different country and see what experiences and hardships they have faced during their time in America. This can help me build a broader more understanding mindset of what it is like to be in their shoes. [P156]
I could continue to push myself to meet people who have different accents than I am used to and work with them to understand where they are from, their culture, and how to best communicate with them [P139]

Excerpts (4) and (5) provide examples of suggestions for improving communication across linguistic difference that contrast with observations from studies of students’ attitudes toward ITAs. For example, Damron (2003) reports that many of the students in her study seemed unwilling to interact with their ITAs, apparently including making any effort to learn about their backgrounds. Damron reports that, even after a full semester with their ITAs, 40% of the students she surveyed did not know what country their ITAs were from, and 77% reported having ‘learned nothing about the culture or background’ of their ITA (85). The apparent greater willingness to learn about their nonnative English-speaking instructors would be a welcome change for improving communication across linguistic difference in the US university classroom.

It is also worth considering those items that did not suggest a change in participants’ responses. For the Collaboration set (Table 2), these items all had higher mean scores on both pre- and post-tests than those items that did show change. This may suggest that, at the outset of the intervention, many participants felt they already frequently used the strategies discussed in these items. For example, item seven asks the respondent how likely they would be to ask for clarification in a one-on-one interaction with the instructor. The mean response at pre-test was 3.9, corresponding roughly to ‘somewhat likely’ on our scale. In comparison, the mean response at pre-test to item five, regarding asking for clarification in front of a whole class, was 2.4, a noticeably lower value situated between ‘neutral’ and ‘somewhat unlikely’ on our scale. Hence, in a one-on-interaction the participants reported more willingness to engage in Collaboration at pre-test than when listening to an instructor speak to their whole class. This finding speaks to the importance of the communicative situation in considering how people choose to communicate across linguistic difference. This issue was highlighted by a few participants in saying what they would do if they did not understand Yousef’s lecture on proofs, as in excerpt (6):

In this scenario it would be even harder to ask him to clarify his statements because he is in front of an audience. Because of the audience, it would be even easier to assume some sort of hostility or irritation when asking for clarification. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t deal with it. Or I might ask him after class if it was really so important. [P27]

Here, the participant admits discomfort with attempting to repair communication difficulty in front of their classmates. Although such responses to this prompt were uncommon, they are similar to concerns from students in Subtirelu (2017) who tended to feel less comfortable engaging in repair when the instructor was addressing the whole class.

Similarly, items from the Avoidance set (Table 3) that did not show changes tended to have lower mean scores than the items that did show change, suggesting that participants were already refraining from those behaviors. For example, at both pre-test and post-test, participants reported being ‘somewhat unlikely’ to switch sections when they found out that their instructor would be a nonnative English speaker. In this case, with high demand for mandatory courses in the department, all CS sections normally fill before the instructors are known, making this an unrealistic strategy for students. Thus, the lack of change observed for many items may reflect participants’ belief that they are already engaging in the behaviors that our intervention encouraged or abstaining from behaviors that our intervention discouraged.

One item from the Avoidance set did not follow this trend. Item ten asks how likely the participant would be to contact a classmate instead of contacting the professor with a question about a homework assignment. At both pre- and post-test, the mean response corresponded roughly to ‘somewhat likely’ on our scale. The lack of observable change in how participants responded to this item (and the related item nine) suggests that our intervention did not necessarily encourage participants to seek out their nonnative English-speaking instructors as resources outside of class. This is not very surprising since our intervention does not explicitly encourage such behaviors, and students often report avoiding reaching out to their instructors outside of class for reasons other than the instructor’s language background (Griffin et al. 2014). For example, one participant added the following as an additional comment after completing the post-test:

I wouldn’t do a lot of these things not because of the accent, but because I prefer talking to classmates instead of the professor in general, not going to office hours, etc. [P14]

Nonetheless, while students may avoid any instructor for many reasons, evidence from this study and others suggest this avoidance may be particularly common for nonnative English-speaking instructors, especially those who are seen by students as problematic communicators. Indeed, research has suggested that, rather than seeking out their instructors’ help, students often rely on peers and others when they struggle to understand their nonnative English-speaking instructors (Plakans 1997).

4 Conclusion

Higher education in the twenty-first century US is awash in interventions to address issues related to “diversity” and privilege. Writing over twenty years ago, McCauley et al. (2000) report that “diversity workshops” for students were quite common, with 70% of institutions reporting offering such workshops in 1996–1997. Despite the popularization of diversity workshops and related interventions, institutions of higher education in the US continue to struggle to address the inequitable access and outcomes that different groups enjoy within them. As a result, many scholars have expressed skepticism about the efficacy of interventions designed to address diversity and/or privilege (e.g., Bezrukova et al. 2012; Dobbin and Kalev 2016; Shepherd 2019).

Efforts to challenge the institutionalized language privilege of ‘native’ English speakers must, therefore, provide evidence of their potential for impact and change. As we mentioned above, applied linguists have been developing one-off, small-scale interventions focused on language difference for many years, and they have tended to carry out these interventions in an exploratory fashion in individual classrooms (e.g., Kubota 2001) or in laboratories (e.g., Lindemann et al. 2016). Such work has played an important role in providing examples of the kinds of interventions that might be tried, exploring the kinds of outcomes that might be expected, and identifying procedures that are more or less likely to lead to desired outcomes. However, the interventions reported have only been able to have limited impact on the institutions where they were carried out.

Because the intervention we report on here was integrated into the CS department’s curriculum, it reached over 300 students in its first year of implementation, including the 174 domestic students that this paper reports on, and was revised for a second year of implementation in CS with the addition of an option that allowed international and multilingual students to choose a training on US varieties of English instead of Chinese and Indian varieties if they wished. In addition, our curriculum has also been revised and implemented with a large group of undergraduate students at a second university in the College of Business. Although findings from subsequent studies with this intervention are beyond the scope of the current manuscript, in future papers we intend to report on the effectiveness and impact of the curriculum on a larger scale, in a variety of contexts, and over a longer period of time. Thus, the scale of our intervention creates the conditions for shifts in institutional culture, since it reached more than just a few individuals, ultimately reaching most of the institution’s CS majors during their first year of study with plans for it to be repeated for the next group of incoming students.

The intervention also provides an example of how all three of the priorities identified by Subtirelu and Lindemann (2016) might be combined, including encouraging strategies for productively and respectfully dealing with communication difficulty, the focus of this paper. We have presented evidence that, in general, the intervention led to a modest shift in the way many of the participants oriented to communication across linguistic difference. In particular, many of them reported a greater willingness to engage in repair when they encountered difficulty understanding their nonnative English speaking instructors as well as a greater willingness to learn about their instructors’ backgrounds. Reviews of “diversity workshops” have often found that there is limited evidence to support their effectiveness (e.g., Bezrukova et al. 2012; Shepherd 2019). When considered alongside previous findings that have suggested the efficacy of certain approaches to addressing native listeners’ negative attitudes toward and lack of familiarity with nonnative Englishes (as reviewed in Subtirelu and Lindemann 2016), the present findings suggest that a multi-pronged approach to addressing language privilege could have a few different desirable outcomes for the participants, such as increased awareness of language diversity, more positive attitudes toward other Englishes, increased ability to comprehend other Englishes, and a greater range of strategies for communicating across linguistic difference.

Even in the process of its development and implementation, the intervention described here provides an insightful case study illustrating the potential for institutional change that comes with evidence-based pedagogy and interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing. Initially, the Computer Science department approached the communication problem from a perspective that privileged the perspective of native English-speaking students, blamed nonnative speaker fluency alone, and sought an extra-curricular training solution for ITAs. The CS department’s understanding of the situation thus appeared to reflect the same priorities and perspectives that have long been described in studies focusing on institutional responses to communication difficulties between ITAs and students (Bailey 1984; Fitch and Morgan 2003; King 1998). However, the department proved open to discussions of relevant research and were readily convinced by the third author’s evidence-based argument (drawing on studies such as Lindemann et al. 2016) that a different approach might be more effective. This negotiation illustrates the common lack of connection between institutional practices/policies and contemporary research, and the need to make evidence-based arguments to decision-makers if we are to change institutional cultures and their underlying ideologies.

Although we consider the observed changes to be desirable, we conclude with a discussion of limitations and areas still in need of further inquiry. First, it is important to address the distinction between our participants’ reported behavioral intentions and action. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen 1991), we treat the reported intentions discussed in this paper to be meaningful predictors of action, as they have been shown in other contexts to be (Bamberg and Möser 2007). Nonetheless, intentions are not completely predictive of action, and it is likely that at least some participants responded to the post-test due to their awareness of how we hoped they would respond without having a genuine commitment to Collaboration. Further research is necessary to explore to what extent participants’ reported behavioral intentions lead to greater use of collaborative strategies in interactions with their nonnative English-speaking instructors. Such research would benefit from direct observation and analysis of communicative behavior in classrooms and other instructional settings.

Second, as we have noted, the participants may need more guidance on how to ask for clarification or repair in a respectful and productive way. An advantage of the online training is that it can allow for tailoring to specific students’ needs and interests. Thus, students could be provided an option to either practice specific strategies for asking questions in and after class or to practice their comprehension of different specific accents. More individualized instruction may also help address other problems that have arisen in the literature on diversity training. For example, some individuals have been reported to resent being required to participate in such trainings (Dobbin and Kalev 2016) or to end up feeling shamed as a result of their participation (Legault et al. 2011). Although we did not directly observe resentment or shame from our participants, such feelings might require researchers to adopt other means of probing participants’ reactions to the curriculum in order to document them. Future research should consider whether some native English users have negative emotional responses to such interventions, how these feelings might be observed and elaborated on, and how they might be productively addressed so as to motivate all participants to engage in productive and respectful communication across linguistic difference.

Finally, in order to effect broader change, it is important to continue the work that has already begun to scale up the intervention to offer at the institutional level as well as at different institutions. Aside from any success in directly helping more undergraduates to develop important skills, such a larger-scale approach can begin to facilitate culture change at not only the departmental level, but also the institutional and ultimately societal levels in how we regard communication between native and nonnative English speakers.

Corresponding author: Stephanie Lindemann, Applied Linguistics & ESL, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA, E-mail:

Appendix A: Lecture 1 script. Linguistic diversity and the cooperative approach

Hello. I’m XXX. I’m a linguist at XXX. And I wanna talk today about how people from different language and cultural backgrounds can successfully communicate. This topic is really important for college students today for a couple of reasons. First, universities are making a huge effort to recruit faculty and students from all over the world. You probably have fellow students and instructors from many different countries. Maybe you’ve encountered some communication barriers. Learning to work through them will reduce the stress of working with your instructors and fellow students. It could help your grade point average. And you might even make some new friends along the way.

The second reason is that it is very likely that your future work will cross national borders. For example, the tech industry thrives on its global connections. People from places like San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis regularly work on projects with colleagues in Munich, Bangalore, and Shanghai.

In order to work together, people from different places have to find a common language. Usually, that language is English. Even though it’s common for people in other countries to speak English, they still speak it differently than people from the United States. This means that a meeting between people from Germany, India, China, and the United States will feature several different Englishes. You might be thinking that ‘different Englishes’ are a recipe for communication disaster. In reality, this communication is usually very successful. Researchers who study this communication have found that these people routinely negotiate intricate business deals and discuss complex research problems. And there are rarely serious breakdowns in communication.

How do people do this? Research suggests that they adopt a common cooperative approach. Everyone in these conversations accepts responsibility for making sure that communication is always as successful as possible.

When we think about what makes communication possible, we usually focus immediately on the speaker. However, what researchers see in conversations between people who use English as a common language is the importance of listeners. The listeners make sure that the inevitable, minor difficulties don’t develop into serious breakdowns.

Imagine this scenario. You go to a technology conference and meet a Japanese woman. You’re really interested in her company and want to learn more. She introduces herself but you couldn’t really understand her name. It contains Japanese sounds that are unfamiliar to your ears and brain. What do you do? You don’t want to interrupt her, so you just glance at her name tag. Okay, her name’s Ryuko. As the conversation goes on, you find it’s pretty easy to understand her, but, sometimes, you don’t fully understand a word or two. You still mostly understand, so everything’s good. However, when you ask her about one of her company’s products, you hear her say ‘we sorted’. Your brain starts working as hard and as fast it can. You still can’t make any sense of ‘we sorted’. You decide you have to do something if the conversation is going to continue. You ask ‘I’m sorry I didn’t understand, you SORTED IT?’ Ryuko looks a little confused, but she immediately repeats herself. This time, she pronounces her words carefully and slowly. ‘We sold it’ she says, ‘another company bought it from us, for a lot of money’.

In this scenario, you can see the importance of what you as a listener can do to make sure communication is successful. If you hadn’t given any feedback to Ryuko, she probably wouldn’t have known there’s a problem. Sometimes, this might be good, because you can solve the problem on your own, by looking for other clues. But, sometimes you need the speaker’s assistance. It’s important that you find ways to ask for help that aren’t disrespectful. Asking Ryuko to clarify what she meant without sounding like you are annoyed with her, even if you might be frustrated, is really important.

It can be hard to use these cooperative strategies. We don’t usually have to work really hard to understand people with backgrounds similar to ours. But sometimes we do. For example, if someone is talking about a topic you’re unfamiliar with, you might have to ask questions to slow down their speech and help you decipher unfamiliar words. Or, if you’re on the phone and the connection isn’t very good, you might have to repeat yourself a lot. When I’m talking to someone new on the phone, I often have to spell my last name like this: ‘X as in …’ [spelling name with words for each letter, like the Nato phonetic alphabet]. You probably use strategies like this too sometimes.

Just like any other skill, using a cooperative approach to communication is something you can get better at. If you practice, you’ll pick up new strategies, and old strategies will become second nature. If you have an opportunity to practice your skills with someone who speaks differently than you, I recommend you make the most of it. Go strike up a conversation and practice your cooperative approach. You might make some new friends from different countries. You’ll find it easier to work on group projects with people from other places. You might even get better grades. And being able to communicate with people who are different than you will also make you more competitive on a job market that is becoming increasingly global.

Appendix B: Yousef, the ITA, scenarios

Scenario A:

Imagine you are taking CS 182. The teaching assistant (TA) is a graduate student from Egypt, named Yousef. Yousef’s first language is Arabic, but he has been using English for many years. Still, he speaks English differently than you do. You and ten other students attend his review session one day. You are struggling to understand proofs. The TA tries to demonstrate how to complete a proof. He starts to write a proof on the whiteboard. As he writes, he talks. You find it hard to understand what he’s talking about. Both Yousef’s accent and the material are so unfamiliar. When he gets to the end of the proof, he asks if there are any questions. You and the rest of the class are silent.

What could you do in this scenario?

Scenario B:

The professor assigns a homework about mathematical proofs. You started working on it, but you’re really struggling. You decide to go to Yousef’s (your TA’s) office hours. You tell Yousef your problem. He says he understands and reassures you that you’re doing a good job. ‘Proofs are just really hard,’ he says. He then starts to explain slowly and clearly. You understand most of what he says, but then he uses a word that you don’t recognize. You let it go, hoping you’ll understand eventually, but, then, there are more words that you don’t understand. After about a minute of explaining, he stops and looks at you. Your mind is racing. You feel like you should understand proofs by now.

What could you do in this scenario?


Ajzen, Icek. 1991. The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50(2). 179–211. in Google Scholar

Alberts, Heike C., Helen D. Hazen & Rebecca Theobald. 2013. Teaching and learning with accented English. In Heike C. Alberts & Helen D. Hazen (eds.), International students and scholars in the United States: Coming from abroad, 199–217. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1057/9781137024473_11Search in Google Scholar

Artemeva, Natasha & Janna Fox. 2011. The writing’s on the board: The global and the local in teaching undergraduate mathematics through chalk talk. Written Communication 28(4). 345–379. in Google Scholar

Au, Terry Kit-fong, Annie Fong-pui Kwok, Lester Chin-pong Tong, Liao Cheng, H. Man-yan Tse & Sun-Ah. Jun. 2017. The social costs in communication hiccups between native and nonnative speakers. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 48(3). 369–383. in Google Scholar

Bailey, Kathleen. 1983. Foreign teaching assistants at U.S. universities: Problems in interaction and communication. TESOL Quarterly 17(2). 308–310. in Google Scholar

Bailey, Kathleen M. 1984. The “foreign TA problem”. In Kathleen M. Bailey (ed.), Foreign teaching assistants in U.S. universities, 3–15. Washington, D.C.: National Association for Foreign Student Affairs.Search in Google Scholar

Bamberg, Sebastian & Guido Möser. 2007. Twenty years after Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera: A new meta-analysis of psycho-social determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology 27(1). 14–25. in Google Scholar

Bezrukova, Katerina, Karen A. Jehn & Chester S. Spell. 2012. Reviewing diversity training: Where we have been and where we should go. Academy of Management Learning & Education 11(2). 207–227. in Google Scholar

Canagarajah, Suresh. 2013. Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. London: Routledge.10.4324/9780203120293Search in Google Scholar

Chiang, Shiao-Yun. 2009. Dealing with communication problems in the instructional interactions between international teaching assistants and American college students. Language and Education 23(5). 461–478. in Google Scholar

Damron, Julie. 2003. What’s the problem? A new perspective on ITA communication. Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development 9(2). 81–88.Search in Google Scholar

Derwing, Tracey M., Marian J. Rossiter & Murray J. Munro. 2002. Teaching native speakers to listen to foreign-accented speech. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23(4). 245–259. in Google Scholar

Dobbin, Frank & Alexandra Kalev. 2016. Why diversity programs fail: And what works better. Harvard Business Review 94(7–8). 52.Search in Google Scholar

Drljača Margić, Branka. 2017. Communication courtesy or condescension? Linguistic accommodation of native to non-native speakers of English. Journal of English as a Lingua Franca 6(1). 29–55.10.1515/jelf-2017-0006Search in Google Scholar

Fitch, Fred & Susan E. Morgan. 2003. “Not a lick of English”: Constructing the ITA identity through student narratives. Communication Education 52(3/4). 297–310. in Google Scholar

Galinsky, Adam D., Gillian Ku & Cynthia S. Wang. 2005. Perspective-taking and self-other overlap: Fostering social bonds and facilitating social coordination. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 8(2). 109–124. in Google Scholar

Griffin, Whitney, Steven D. Cohen, Rachel Berndtson, Kristen M. Burson, K. Martin Camper, Yujie Chen & Margaret Austin Smith. 2014. Starting the conversation: An exploratory study of factors that influence student office hour use. College Teaching 62(3). 94–99. in Google Scholar

Jenkins, Jennifer. 2011. Accommodating (to) ELF in the international university. Journal of Pragmatics 43(4). 926–936. in Google Scholar

Kang, Okim, Donald Rubin & Stephanie Lindemann. 2015. Mitigating U.S. undergraduates’ attitudes toward international teaching assistants. TESOL Quarterly 49(4). 681–706. in Google Scholar

Kaplan, Robert B. 1989. The life and times of ITA programs. English for Specific Purposes 8(2). 109–124. in Google Scholar

King, Kenneth. 1998. Mandating English proficiency for college instructors: States’ responses to the TA problem. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 31(1). 203–256.Search in Google Scholar

Kubota, Ryuko. 2001. Teaching world Englishes to native speakers of English in the USA. World Englishes 20(1). 47–64. in Google Scholar

Legault, Lisa, Jennifer N. Gutsell & Michael Inzlicht. 2011. Ironic effects of antiprejudice messages: How motivational interventions can reduce (but also increase) prejudice. Psychological Science 22(12). 1472–1477. in Google Scholar

Lindemann, Stephanie. 2002. Listening with an attitude: A model of native-speaker comprehension of non-native speakers in the United States. Language in Society 31(3). 419–441. in Google Scholar

Lindemann, Stephanie, Maxi-Ann Campbell, Jason Litzenberg & Nicholas Close Subtirelu. 2016. Explicit and implicit training methods for improving native English speakers’ comprehension of nonnative speech. Journal of Second Language Pronunciation 2(1). 93–108. in Google Scholar

Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1994. Accent, standard language ideology, and discriminatory pretext in the courts. Language in Society 23(2). 163–198. in Google Scholar

Manohar, Uttara & Osei Appiah. 2016. Perspective taking to improve attitudes towards international teaching assistants: The role of national identification and prior attitudes. Communication Education 65(2). 149–163. in Google Scholar

Mauranen, Anna. 2006. Signaling and preventing misunderstanding in English as lingua franca communication. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 177(1). 123–150. in Google Scholar

McCauley, Clark, Mary Wright & Mary E. Harris. 2000. Diversity workshops on campus: A survey of current practice at U.S. colleges and universities. College Student Journal 34(1). 100–114.Search in Google Scholar

Pickering, Lucy. 2009. Intonation as a pragmatic resource in ELF interaction. Intercultural Pragmatics 6(2). 235. in Google Scholar

Plakans, Barbara S. 1997. Undergraduates’ experiences with and attitudes toward international teaching assistants. TESOL Quarterly 31(1). 95–119. in Google Scholar

Shepherd, Stephane M. 2019. Cultural awareness workshops: Limitations and practical consequences. BMC Medical Education 19(1). 14. in Google Scholar

Singh, Rajendra, Jayant Lele & Gita Martohardjono. 1988. Communication in a multilingual society: Some missed opportunities. Language in Society 17(1). 43–59. in Google Scholar

Staples, Shelley, Okim Kang & Elizabeth Wittner. 2014. Considering interlocutors in university discourse communities: Impacting U.S. undergraduates’ perceptions of ITAs through a structured contact program. English for Specific Purposes 35. 54–65. in Google Scholar

Sterzuk, Andrea. 2015. ‘The standard remains the same’: Language standardisation, race and othering in higher education. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 36(1). 53–66. in Google Scholar

Subtirelu, Nicholas Close. 2016. Linguistic diversity and the politics of international inclusion in higher education: A critical sociolinguistic study of international teaching assistants. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University.Search in Google Scholar

Subtirelu, Nicholas Close. 2017. Students’ orientations to communication across linguistic difference with international teaching assistants at an internationalizing university in the United States. Multilingua 36(3). 247–280. in Google Scholar

Subtirelu, Nicholas Close & Shakthidhar Reddy Gopavaram. 2016. Crowdsourcing critical discourse analysis: Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to explore readers’ uptake of comments about language on Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines 8(1). 38–57.Search in Google Scholar

Subtirelu, Nicholas Close & Stephanie Lindemann. 2016. Teaching first language speakers to communicate across linguistic difference: Addressing attitudes, comprehension, and strategies. Applied Linguistics 37(6). 765–783.10.1093/applin/amu068Search in Google Scholar

Sweeney, Emma & Zhu Hua. 2010. Accommodating toward your audience: Do native speakers of English know how to accommodate their communication strategies toward nonnative speakers of English? Journal of Business Communication 47(4). 477–504. in Google Scholar

Tyler, Andrea & Catherine Davies. 1990. Cross-linguistic communication missteps. Text 10(4). 385–412. in Google Scholar

Villarreal, Dan. 2013. Closing the communication gap between undergraduates and international faculty. CATESOL Journal 24(1). 8–28.Search in Google Scholar

Weyant, James M. 2007. Perspective taking as a means of reducing negative stereotyping of individuals who speak English as a second language. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 37(4). 703–716. in Google Scholar

Zhu, Yi & Mary Jiang Bresnahan. 2021. A thematic analysis of international teaching assistants’ stigma experience in a U.S. university: English-proficiency determinism. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication 14(2). 146–163. in Google Scholar

Received: 2021-02-10
Accepted: 2022-01-10
Published Online: 2022-01-28
Published in Print: 2022-11-25

© 2022 Nicholas Close Subtirelu et al., published by De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Downloaded on 21.3.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow