TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:Everyone that's said anything about teaching adults in here must work in a different place than I do.
They're all dead inside. I've never seen people so soulless as in Taiwan. I really do like teaching, and I do try to improve myself, but these people just have zero passion for English. They can't even say hello, or are so rude that they refuse to. They literally give me money to argue with me about not wanting to learn English.
I'm sympathetic to your situation, so I hate saying this, but your attitude has to change before they'll change anything. They can feel your disdain, and why should they talk to anyone that hates them? Especially when it's in a language that's difficult for them?
I've had classes like this before, but the horror never lasts longer than a class or two. If I have them for a week they'll start being a jovial crowd and a joy to be around. Have I changed them that much in a week? No, their personalities and the culture remain the same- I'm just working within the culture and changing their perceptions about English class.
I've been doing this for three years and I've gone through a lot of classes that started out acting exactly as you're describing them. It never lasts. You can switch it around with the right attitude and the right activities.
They're adults, right? They don't HAVE to be in your class, so they must have some motivation for learning English, unless their boss is making them take the class.
I almost always start with a 'history of your English education' question answer session. Helps if you have it on paper.
"How long have you been learning English?"
"Did you love English or did you hate English in high school?"
"What have you hated about English class in the past?"
"What have you loved about English class in the past?"
"When was the first time you had a foreign English teacher?"
IF these things are written down, they'll understand them better. You can even scaffold answers on the board.
"I have been learning English for ___ years, since I was ___ years old."
Easy enough- I pretty much guarantee they'll answer that.
"I hated English, because...." (give them some possible answers)
"I loved English, because..."
You'll learn a lot about them, their attitudes toward English, and why they might be staring at you like dead fish. Maybe this is what was expected of them in their past English classes.
Usually this opens up a discussion about teaching they've experienced in the past that focused on grammar. Why does that not work for language acquisition? Why do they hate English? Part of it probably has to do with the fact that though they studied the damned language for 12 years, they still can't converse in it. That's when I go into the fact that I focus on conversation in my class. They've done grammar already. They've done the books to death. It hasn't gotten them to where they want to be. So we're going to learn the language as god intended. By speaking and listening.
MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM.
To me it sounds like you're asking open-ended questions, and even if their English is good enough to answer them, they feel unsure, so therefore don't want to answer. The loss, if they answer incorrectly, is greater than the reward if they answer correctly (in their minds.) To mitigate their fear, you have to make the first questions extremely easy to answer- tell them the answer. Just let them fill in a couple of words. This communicates that you EXPECT an answer and they know they can't be 'wrong.' After you get them in the flow of actually answering questions, it will become a habit, the whole class will know it's expected of them and they will feel like they're weird if they don't answer. Then it's smooth sailing.
I've introduced a new segment to my classes. I call it small talk. I write a greeting question on the board: "How's it going?" (Later, try "How was your weekend?" "What are your plans for the weekend?" "What's up?")
Then I write possible answers:
I explain that if they feel like talking, they can say something like:
"Pretty good, I just spent the morning ___(cleaning my house, preparing a report for my boss, studying English.) It went pretty well. How's your day been so far?"
If they don't feel like talking, they can say something like:
"Not bad, thanks for asking. How about you?"
I write this up on the board. I model it for them. Ask them to ask me the question. Walk them through my answers. When they're struggling to describe their day, I provide them with vocab and phrases that they actually need.
Anyways, in 3 years, I've only had one resistant student who remained resistant. I've got high attendance in my classes and my school is always after me to take on more hours. And I love my students. They add a lot to my life.
Make it easy on them, try to like them, and be patient with yourself.