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Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

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Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby Milkybar_Kid » 16 Aug 2012, 06:49

I have started a new job where I have a few classes of junior high school students. I have found that during the speaking sections of the class they are very reluctant to speak. They usually just give one word answers. However their English level is good because when they write they write fluently and go into great detail.

The feedback I have had from my boss has simply been; "it has to come from you (me), you have to draw it out of them by giving them more closed questions".

Of course I am not an idiot. They are 14,15 year old kids and the last place they want to be on a Friday night at 7pm is in class so this will affect things.

Nevertheless does anyone have any advice or suggestions?

Thanks
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby dan2006 » 16 Aug 2012, 09:37

I'm having the same problem as you so I hope someone answers.

In some of my classes everyone likes to talk with me, or at least try. In other classes (like last night), 20 people showed up and 5 came in late and sat in the corner and didn't acknowledge me at all, even when I said hi. They also refused to speak all night and left early. If I asked them a question, they would just shrug. Out of a class of 20, only about 3 or 4 people were willing to speak.

I also have no idea how to make them talk.
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby TaiwanVisitor12321 » 16 Aug 2012, 11:52

Yep. Welcome to Taiwan.

Yesterday I had a class that wouldn't even look up or say hello. I told them they were rude and wasting my time and theirs. Nothing. Another class was having fun but suddenly went silent, and refused to do ANYTHING. I flat out asked them what the hell was going on in their minds during this part of class. What are they thinking when the teacher is asking them to speak and they just completely ignore him? Do they think they're learning anything valuable by acting that way?

Of course nobody will tell you what they're thinking. In another country they'd just say "look, this part is kind of boring" or "I'm tired today, I don't want to talk...". But in Taiwan they are all TERRIFIED of each other.

I got a girl alone recently and she repeated what I've heard again and again now... they're afraid of the other students laughing at them, and that there were several students that could speak very well and she's afraid she's not at that level, so she can't speak in class. I pointed out that those people made plenty of mistakes and nobody laughed, and because they made plenty of mistakes (by actually talking) I was able to communicate with them and teach them some things they were interested in learning. I think she's about ready to come alive in class. Some of them do want to, they're just really really afraid.

Aside from getting some 1-on-1 time with people that really want to do better though, I've found it really hard to get them to stop them from fighting themselves in class. They waste all their time worrying about nonsense instead of just improving.

I never ridicule someone for speaking in class, even if I can't understand a damn thing they're saying. I've never really heard anyone else laugh at them either... the only people that get laughed at are confident people that laugh at their own mistakes too.

Basically you need them to understand it's a safe place. I've explained that a million ways in class, but I haven't found the right one to unlock the door just yet... at least not for the majority of them.
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby Tempo Gain » 16 Aug 2012, 13:58

TaiwanVisitor12321 wrote:I got a girl alone recently and she repeated what I've heard again and again now... they're afraid of the other students laughing at them, and that there were several students that could speak very well and she's afraid she's not at that level, so she can't speak in class.


Interesting. Something I always have to instill with a new group in the first few lessons is "mistakes are all right, part of learning, blah blah blah, but mistakes are NOT funny." Easy with the little ones of course.
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby BigJohn » 16 Aug 2012, 14:22

Milkybar_Kid wrote:I have started a new job where I have a few classes of junior high school students. I have found that during the speaking sections of the class they are very reluctant to speak. They usually just give one word answers. However their English level is good because when they write they write fluently and go into great detail.

The feedback I have had from my boss has simply been; "it has to come from you (me), you have to draw it out of them by giving them more closed questions".

Of course I am not an idiot. They are 14,15 year old kids and the last place they want to be on a Friday night at 7pm is in class so this will affect things.

Nevertheless does anyone have any advice or suggestions?

Thanks


You can try giving them scripted dialogues, like role plays. That way they are not "responsible"for actually talking, they are just doing a class exercise.

You can also give them sentence stems and have them fill in the answer impromptu when speaking. For example, "Introducing Yourself" Hi my name is ________, I am from ___________ in Taiwan. My favorite subject in school is ____________. I like it because _______________. In my free time, I like to ____________.

Hope that helps!
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby Toe Save » 16 Aug 2012, 14:28

Loss of face comes from making mistakes. It's called 法家.

This is a cornerstone of Chinese Culture. Their Golden Rule.

However, language is only learned by making mistakes.

Given these opposing maxims, is it even possible for the majority of Taiwanese to succeed in using an L2 without obliterating the concept of 法家 from the outset?

As a teacher, you need to see this and strive to help the student overcome their fear of making mistakes. This is the first step, without which, there can be no others.
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby archylgp » 16 Aug 2012, 15:53

Toe Save wrote:Loss of face comes from making mistakes. It's called 法家.


Fa3jia1 to my understanding has to do with the debate in Chinese philosophy over whether or not humans are innately evil or good (ren2xing4 shan4 VS ren2xing4 e4). Fa3jia1 philosophy is that people are evil and there needs to be laws to control them....That's a bad explanation but a lot better than the nonsense you wrote.

Anyways, imagine when you were a student. Did you speak up in your high school French class or whatever. I didn't and neither did my classmates. I hated that class. The teacher had to force us to use sentences. (Perhaps this is because the corner stone of American culture is that we lose face when we make mistakes :roll: ). I have found that Taiwanese students are willing to participate if you create a really relaxed atmosphere where they won't feel nervous. More so than western students, I think. This can cause behavioral problems, though, so you must be careful. One technique to get them loosened up is to have a conversation with yourself (you playing both parts) demonstrating what they are supposed to do. This usually gets a laugh and directs them at the same time. DON'T get angry or lecture them. You'll lose the class for good if you do that.
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby dan2006 » 16 Aug 2012, 17:33

archylgp wrote:
Toe Save wrote:Loss of face comes from making mistakes. It's called 法家.


Fa3jia1 to my understanding has to do with the debate in Chinese philosophy over whether or not humans are innately evil or good (ren2xing4 shan4 VS ren2xing4 e4). Fa3jia1 philosophy is that people are evil and there needs to be laws to control them....That's a bad explanation but a lot better than the nonsense you wrote.

Anyways, imagine when you were a student. Did you speak up in your high school French class or whatever. I didn't and neither did my classmates. I hated that class. The teacher had to force us to use sentences. (Perhaps this is because the corner stone of American culture is that we lose face when we make mistakes :roll: ). I have found that Taiwanese students are willing to participate if you create a really relaxed atmosphere where they won't feel nervous. More so than western students, I think. This can cause behavioral problems, though, so you must be careful. One technique to get them loosened up is to have a conversation with yourself (you playing both parts) demonstrating what they are supposed to do. This usually gets a laugh and directs them at the same time. DON'T get angry or lecture them. You'll lose the class for good if you do that.


I was the same as you in the French class. That was because French was a forced subject and I couldn't care less about it :D

You would think the English class would be different because they are paying money presumably because they want to learn English. You would think. :roll:
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Re: Junior High School students are reluctant to speak in class

Postby archylgp » 16 Aug 2012, 17:38

dan2006 wrote:
archylgp wrote:
Toe Save wrote:Loss of face comes from making mistakes. It's called 法家.


Fa3jia1 to my understanding has to do with the debate in Chinese philosophy over whether or not humans are innately evil or good (ren2xing4 shan4 VS ren2xing4 e4). Fa3jia1 philosophy is that people are evil and there needs to be laws to control them....That's a bad explanation but a lot better than the nonsense you wrote.

Anyways, imagine when you were a student. Did you speak up in your high school French class or whatever. I didn't and neither did my classmates. I hated that class. The teacher had to force us to use sentences. (Perhaps this is because the corner stone of American culture is that we lose face when we make mistakes :roll: ). I have found that Taiwanese students are willing to participate if you create a really relaxed atmosphere where they won't feel nervous. More so than western students, I think. This can cause behavioral problems, though, so you must be careful. One technique to get them loosened up is to have a conversation with yourself (you playing both parts) demonstrating what they are supposed to do. This usually gets a laugh and directs them at the same time. DON'T get angry or lecture them. You'll lose the class for good if you do that.


I was the same as you in the French class. That was because French was a forced subject and I couldn't care less about it :D

You would think the English class would be different because they are paying money presumably because they want to learn English. You would think. :roll:


Their parents are paying money because their parents want them to learn English :) (Some want to, as well.) People are shy, too, of course, but that's not because of Fa3jia1 or any other Chinese culture belief; people are shy everywhere!
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