- June 18, 1999 at 12:00 am #6965
I am teaching a public speaking class at a large university. I have seven Asian students from various countries. They are shy about speaking out in class, and I know they are not accustomed to the open interaction I encourage in the classroom. What can I do to make them more comfortable and to encourage them to participate?
User Detail :Name : Rhiannon, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 28, City : Minneapolis, State : MN Country : United States, Occupation : Media studies graduate student, June 20, 1999 at 12:00 am #26445
Normand O. L.Participant
I’m a white male and despised public speaking in seventh grade and in college. I still do. Why such an emphasis on public speaking? Public speaking is aimed at persuasion by any means and minimizes critical thought. The written word requires more in terms of thoughtful reflection in both reading and writing. Let those who hate it or feel uncomfortable with it go on to more useful things.
User Detail :Name : Normand O. L., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 50, City : Alameda, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Mechanic, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, July 16, 1999 at 12:00 am #36889
In today’s business world, open verbal communication, the give and take between individuals in teams, is a must. Those who remain silent are not seen as being part of the team and so can lose out on cameraderie, bonuses, raises and promotions. I work for a global company that offers courses in diversity, and I have been taught to be aware of the different ways people from varying cultures communicate. You are indeed being sensitive to the needs of your students by asking this question. Perhaps some one-on-one interaction with each of these students would be helpful. If you can determine whether their reticence is culturally based or personality based, you can start working with them to help them feel more comfortable with speaking in front of the class. If their career goal is to be in an office environment in a fast-paced, global company, their career advancement can very possibly be derailed by not being able to converse with and in front of groups.
User Detail :Name : Mark B., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Cathedral of Hope - UFMCC, Age : 39, City : Dallas, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : Financial analyst, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, November 5, 1999 at 12:00 am #14476
I recently read a story in the paper where a supervisor who was forced to take a sensitivity class reprimanded a worker for describing his previous job as ‘slave labor’ saying that this was offensive to afro-americans. The lone afro-american worker present was upset because she assumed that she would be blamed for the reprimand and wrote a letter to an advice column as to what she should do. It seems to me that everyone involved is not ‘on the up and up’, they are all playing games. The supervisor was angry at having to take the class and decided to retaliate at the afro-american worker whom she obviously blamed for having to take the class. The person making the comment may have been in on the ‘joke’. The worker who wrote the letter can probably sense the hostility and is asking for help. I feel that the afro-american worker should have completely ingnored the situation or treated it as a silly ‘joke’. She should also note that this type of sensitivity training only makes matters worse when the people involved are not of good will. In fact, I believe that the supervisor and most of the workers are very ‘sensitive’ in a negative sort of way. They know what ‘hurts’ and are using this knowledge as a weapons system. This I believe is a common occurrance. Many people believe that the ability to hurt people ‘accidentaly’ is a very valuable social skill that they are not about to give up. Some people also seem to believe that the opportunity to hurt people with impunity is a mark of streght and superiority.
User Detail :Name : joshua goldin, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Humanist, Age : 60+, City : College Park, State : MD Country : United States, Occupation : teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, November 30, 1999 at 12:00 am #33388
I teach cyberlaw and computer ethics at Florida State University in the Computer Science Department. As you can imagine, we have a lot of Asian students, mainly from China. My classes are discussion classes and heavily Socratic due to the subject matter, and I have noticed this tendency toward shyness in class, particularly among the Chinese. I found that although some of the reluctance is due to the language barrier, most of it is cultural. I spoke with some of the Chinese students about this, and they were quite expressive on an individual basis. Many told me they were very uncomfortable talking in class and particularly uncomfortable about expressing an opinion, or even worse, questioning or disagreeing with the instructor. This is a problem, because disagreeing with the instructor is a required element in my courses! It seems this is not done in China. The instructor speaks, the students copy down his words verbatim, and that’s it.
I don’t have any easy answers, but meeting with the international students individually and explaining the U.S. style of education might help. I did succeed in getting a few to open up, but many were still reluctant.
User Detail :Name : H. Brown, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic Methodist Taoist, Age : 31, City : Tallahassee, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : Attorney/grad student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, December 2, 1999 at 12:00 am #23047
I would guess that the students’ reluctance to speak stems from a feeling of inadequacy with English. I would guess they chose to be in this class, but now that they are there find that they are unable to overcome their embarrassment. I think public speaking is no less important than writing, so I would suggest you discover why they chose to take this class and see if you can accommodate their needs. Of course, there is also a wonderful social lubricant that helps me speak French more fluently: booze.
User Detail :Name : M.C., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Asian, Religion : Christian, Age : 28, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, December 2, 1999 at 12:00 am #28158
I am Asian and was in a public-speaking class in high school (Toastmasters). We had Asian nationals from places like Thailand in the class – they were all shy, too. To me, the No. 1 reason they were shy was that certain students were making fun of them (i.e. their accents). If you want to help them, tell the ridiculing students to behave.
User Detail :Name : David, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Asian-American, Religion : Campbellian, Age : 26, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : Law Student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, December 3, 1999 at 12:00 am #43586
You have noted that many Chinese students feel it is improper to disagree publicly, whether with students or most particularly with the teacher. This is the pattern of traditional Chinese education, combined with Chinese family life. The only way to deal honestly with Chinese students in a university is to alter classroom discussion practices; ask them to present on a topic, but realize they will feel humiliated if open disagreement with their points is voiced. Face is paramount. After students have experienced three or four years of classroom life in the Western World (I am Australian, and we have tens of thousands of Asian students) they adapt successfully to our classroom processes.
User Detail :Name : Dale, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Episcopalian, Age : 55, City : Melbourne, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : Lecturer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper class, November 28, 2003 at 12:00 am #28752
I didn’t make a sound in any of freshmen and sophomore English classes. I took four English classes and I never participated in anyone of them, but I got A’s on all my papers and in all of those classes. My first class, I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t speak at all, all the rest, I really didn’t give a shit beside my grade. All I want is to suceed in College, whether or not I voice my opinion about a book I could careless, I know what I think. I want to know what other people think and learn to adapt my view and their views to suceed in life. Life is hard. It’s better to listen to what people think than to let people know what you think. Cynical eh. ‘We were raised as sheep in the world of wolves.’
User Detail :Name : --Aguy, Gender : M, Disability : none, Race : Asian, Age : 19, City : Lawrence, State : KS Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class,
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