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Something interesting happened 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 6:49 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Japan
Post Something interesting happened
I have a few classes of kids between 12 and 15 years old, and my continuing problem is getting them to participate. something happened today that really surprised me. I go into class as usual and my kids ignore me as usual. They continue talking to their friends and doing other teachers homework as if I wasn't there. I decided (and it wasn't like it was a conscious decision) to ask them what they were talking about/what they were doing. Their initial reaction to this was to stop talking/doing what they were doing as if I was disciplining them. I didn't take well to that because I really wanted to know. I wanted them to answer. so I persisted until they gave me an answer, and I would continue it with the next kid that was talking out of place. what evolved from this was a class of kids who wouldn't do or say anything out of fear of having to answer my question. Now I didn't want to foster fear from speaking, and I really tried to sound and appear as friendly as possible when I asked them the questions. Me persisting for an answer could be viewed as scary, but I didn't have any choice.

I guess the thing I got from this experience was that instead of telling the students to stop talking or stop doing something, I just asked them a question about what they were doing and they eventually stopped. but I feel there is a lot more to be gained here. I noticed some kids acquired a habit of viewing questioning as a form discipline and reacted to it by halting the current act but not actually answering the question, which I don't like. I also noticed that if you persisted long enough they will answer, but usually out desperation, not desire.

I would enjoy to hear any thoughts about this experience I had, and in general, how do I overcome my dilemma of teaching kids in that weird 12-15 year old phase of them just not caring to learn. Thank you.

Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:14 pm
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:04 pm
Posts: 1
Post Re: Something interesting happened
Hi xenofied,

I sympathise with your students not seeming to want to learn, that must be really tough. I was wondering, do you speak Korean to your students (your location is in Korea, so I'm assuming you are teaching Korean students?)? I'm a teacher in Japan, and although I only begun learning Japanese when I arrived last August, I find that the students really appreciate me even just being able to speak a few words of Japanese to them. They find it less scary, so if you can, maybe ask them in Korean what they are talking about, and see if you get a warmer response. They'll hopefully appreciate hearing you speak Korean because it shows you to be as vulnerable as them in a foreign language situation. Depending on their level of English, you asking them a question may well sound to them like a command.

What methods have you so far used in trying to gain and keep their attention? How long have you taught this class for?

I'm sorry to not offer more advice, if you let me know more about your situation I can hopefully think of some tips.

Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:13 pm
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