>What’s YOUR problem?

>I had an interesting discussion with some teachers in Japan about why Japanese students are so quiet in class.

But it seems odd to discuss the quietness of Japanese students with you, the reader of this blog, yes, YOU.

Why are Japanese so shy? Why do they respond so little? What is it in their culture that causes this situation? What can teachers do to make Asian students more responsive? After all, as teachers we think our students should be responsive. They should be interactive. Right? What teacher in his right mind would actually want students who are not interactive? Who would want quiet non-responsive students?

Although you and I are not students it does seem really odd that we even try to discuss this question on this blog. Why does it seem odd?…because you are probably not going to comment on this blog. You will not mention your thoughts or opinion, agreement or disagreement. YOU are going to be quiet. YOU are not going to interact. I am not upset with YOU. It’s just that I don’t understand how we can ask our students to be something that we are not going to make the effort to be ourselves, interactive.

Is it because the YOU are too timid to venture an opinion? Some people reading this page are experienced teachers, MA’s or even PhD’s. It is likely we may draw some managers of various schools as well as IELTS, UCLES, TOEFL, ETS, Oxford and Cambridge University Press. We may have university professors who visit. We may have the very gurus and rock stars of our profession on this list. But still this blog is impoverished by the lack of sharing of the riches of their experience and training.

Seriously, how can we as professionals in this field ever blame the poor students in Japan for not being interactive when we are doing the very same thing everyday?

This seems odd to me. We all understand the Japanese problem. What I want to know is:

What is your problem?

Please tell us in the “Comments” section.


2 Replies to “>What’s YOUR problem?”

  1. >When there is a teacher seminar in my country I always find it amusingly tragic how silent they are, I mean teachers, of course. The presenter usually wants to involve the members of the audience, but alas, all in vain. Then I sit, silently of course, thinking to myself ‘Carma is happening’ (Earl Hickey) My answer to Your question is peer pressure. So, in order to diminish the ‘silence’ problem I do two things: 1.at the beginning of each year I explain this concept at the very first lesson, in L1, of course(the older the students are the more relieved they seem to be)2. I sometimes make a mistake (believe me, not on purpose), but I admit it, and ask students what was wrong. When they use a sleng word in English I ask them to teach me the meaning. I explain to them that it is only natural for me to learn for them, because I am a captive of a classroom and don’t have time for Jetix or Cartoon Network 12 hours a day. Sometimes, I ask them to spell a word for me, pretending that I have forgotten some silent letters… Well, it doesn’t work immediately, but it starts the ball rolling ;o)

  2. >Hi Dave and others-I think a main reason for not responding is that many see the message long after the original blog was posted and feel that a response will fall into an abyss.As far as a classroom or lecture setting, most people are ready to listen and not to participate. The setting doesn’t encourage conversation.Try putting the audience into a large circle surrounding a group of 6 plus you, the teacher. Have the outside group listen or evaluate some specific item. Then carry on a conversation or lesson with the inner circle and you’ll find a good interaction with most participation. You’ll even get several in the outer circle to respond.

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