classroom cultureIf you’re studying English so that you can attend an American university, keep in mind that language is not the only thing that will be different about your classes. The culture of any classroom reflects the larger culture it exists within. The roles and expectations of students in the classroom in particular can be quite different from what you are used to if your home culture is very different from American culture.

Here are a few things you can expect to experience in an American classroom:

Asking questions

It is normal and expected for students to ask a professor questions. This can happen in the middle of a lecture or after class. Professors even have posted “office hours” when they are available in their offices for students to talk to.

In American culture, the burden of understanding is on the listener. In other words, if you don’t understand something you hear, it is your responsibility to ask for clarification.

Participating in class discussions

While every professor has his or her own style of teaching, it is common for class time to include open discussion of the topic at hand.

It is typically American to value talking about different points of view – not just memorizing facts – as an important part of learning. Individual opinions are considered important, so professors expect their students to share those opinions in class.

Working in groups

Whether for brief activities during class, discussing assigned reading, or long-term projects, group work is a common feature of American university classes. You may be placed in a group by your professor or allowed to choose your own partners.

Though American culture greatly values individual achievement, it also views good teamwork as important, especially in the workplace. Students prepare to be good “team players” in their careers by working in groups in the classroom to practice negotiation, compromise, and leadership.


The best way to prepare yourself for the classroom culture of an American university is to study English in an American language school. Not only will your English improve more quickly as you learn from native English-speaking teachers, but you will get practice participating in classes as your professors will expect you to do.

IEI is a great place to get ready for university in the U.S. We have small classes, an intensive academic curriculum, and a well-trained, caring teachers. Classes start every two months, so apply today!



[Photo credit: bardcollegeatsimonsrock]