The growing number of international students, particularly students from China, at the University of Iowa has prompted the Tippie College of Business to offer instruction for its faculty that will help administrators, academic advisers and instructors better pronounce Chinese students names.
This year, the Judith R. Frank Business Communication Center, which works on communication skills with Tippie students, hired a Chinese-speaking tutor to assist faculty with name pronunciation, said Lisa Leech, assistant director of the Frank Center.
Faculty and even the college’s dean Sarah Gardial stopped by Thursday and Friday to work with Fan Yuan, an undergraduate accounting student and the center’s new tutor. They brought class rosters and questions in exchange for one-on-one tips on how to properly say their new students names.
Most of the names are in Mandarin, but some are Cantonese, Leech said. Yuan helps with both.
Yuan will continue to hold office hours at the center once a week throughout the semester to give further instructions to faculty.
Yuan, from Chong Qing in southwest China, has been a student at the University of Iowa for three years and will be graduating this December.
The idea for this one-on-one training came about after the college held a workshop that focused on the same topic in February. About 50 staff and administrators attended the workshop, which served as a brief introduction to Mandarin pronunciation.
During the 2012-2013 school year, 497 international students were enrolled at the college, 412 from China. This is 15 times more than the 34 international students enrolled in the college in 2005.
Numbers for the 2013-2014 school year are not yet available.
Earlier this year, the Frank Center added extra staff to help Chinese students write and speak English more effectively, and last fall Tippie started offering an international student orientation. The school also has added other social programs to better acclimate the new students.
Leech said that the Greater China Business Association, a student group, has offered help and advice when starting these new programs.
“It’s an effort to help them feel more at home,” Leech said. “By focusing on how to say their names, professors will feel more comfortable calling on students and students will feel more comfortable participating. It shows them we respect them enough to learn their names.”
“If teachers say their names wrong,” she said, “the student may not even know they’re being called on.”