Thursday, June 30, 2005

Should Teachers Call on Shy Students?

A theme of our class has been how/whether teachers should call on encourage shy students to participate actively in the class through calling on them, doing skits, or presentations. One student, Gami, noted in her blog that speaking/presentation activities such as "Reader's Theatre" can be difficult when there are shy students in the class. Thus, teachers should think carefully before trying such activities.

In her blog, she writes
"I think many of students like to do movement , but there are not only positive and cheerful students but also negative and quiet students in the classes . When I attended "Reader's theater" , one of real junior high school teacher told us that there are students who do not speak in the class . There are many kinds of students , and I think to use this way is very difficult for teachers . I want to try to use this way , but I want to pay attention to students' character at first . "

Another student, Tomi , takes a slightly different stance. He wrote the following in his blog

"I think it's better English teacher call on shy student. Probably, most of students have some occasions that they must present something in front of many peple in the future. Actually, I have many such occasions since I enterd the university, so if the teacher leave shy student alone in the class, though he/she might be good temporarily, he/she will have a problem in the future."

Lastly, an English teacher from Brazil, Bee wrote as a comment in my blog that, for the most part, her students really enjoy doing presentations and she also talked about her techniques for calling on volunteers.

I would like to ask this question to current teachers:

How do you handle students in your classroom who are reluctant to speak?

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Should teachers call on shy students?"

I think our job is not to change our students personalities but to teach them English. I mean, I am not comfortable with forcing a students to speak English in front of many people against his/her will.

So, if you have some shy kids who are not willing to spaek English, why don't you change the settings? You can have a different room and do the interview tests with one student at a time.

I believe there's no "must" in the teaching method. We have to see what kind of activity is effective for the students.

Practically, I usually give points the students who are willing to answer questions spontaneously and I always make it clear to my students so that it can encourage them.

Atz

13 Weeks said...

Speaking as a junior high school ALT...
If an activity calls upon each student repeating a set phrase or reading from the text book, then I think all students should be able to complete the task and I would expect even the shy students to attempt it. Attempting an activity, regardless of the quality of English spoken, I think, is just as important as getting the correct grammar and pronounciation.

If the question needs a `freestyle` answer or a piece of self - written English is to be read out, then I think it should be voluntary, and I wouldn`t call upon my shy students.

Opportunities for shy students to regurgitate longer textbook passages to my JTE are always given, in a one-to-one setting.

As a side note, I always find it interesting and so different from other school cultures, when a student stumbles upon a word or is unsure of a correct answer, their peers will whisper the answer to them or they will ask their neighbour, I think this is helpful for shy students and should be encouraged.

Nichola. said...

An english teacher with a spelling mistake in her comment!! Dreadful. Pronunciation.

Anonymous said...

To deal with the issue of “shy students,” we firstly have to identify two types of shy students. First type students are students who, in fact, want to perform communicative task or activities but their shyness hinders it. For the students, pushing them to perform communicative task such as role-play could be effective. Ladousse (1987) mentions that role play can give shy students a mask, which encourages them to feel liberated as their own personality is not on “on display” in role play. They may be just waiting for the opportunity to perform. I personally have seen a lot of shy students who showed impressive role play or other communicative activities before. However, pushing or pressuring real shy students who don’t want to perform in front of other students works the other way. We have to wait until they are ready. Their shyness is generally unique in adolescence and when the right time comes or when needed, they take on practice for communication. Actually, I was a student who even did not want read aloud in the class. I had negative attitudes toward what we call “communicative English.” English was just one of many school subjects for the exam. But I now can communicate with others in English (with some confidence) because when the right time came I began learning English communicatively. (In my case, it was after I became an English teacher and happened to have friends from abroad.) We teachers have to respect this “readiness,” too.

R.S

rice said...

"Should teachers call on shy students?" It is a difficult question for me. If teachers force a student to speak English in front of the other students, he or she probably hate English, I think. So a teacher don't have to call on a shy student.
Tomi said, "most of students have some occasions that they must present something in front of many people in the future." I understood his opinion, but I think the important thing is not presenting in front of many people but communicate with other people by using practical English. So I think teachers do not absolutely call on shy students.
If teachers call on shy students, an atmosphere of classroom is important. students, an atmosphere of classroom is important. Many shy students are afraid of is important. Many shy students are afraid of making mistakes and don't have confidences, so teachers should teach English to make students have confidences. Also, teachers should make a relaxed atmosphere.

guwashi said...

When I read this essay, I remembered a story which I heard at other class. It was that a student can not speach his own opinion and attend the activities actively because he does not believe and trust his friend(his classmates). This idea has a close relation to Shy Students. That is to say, to make a good surrounding and relationship between him and his classmates or him and his teacher. If it realize in the class, the student will not fear making mistakes and will be able to active positively.

forestsheep said...

At first, I had thought that teachers should have spoken to shy students as possible as. But after I read other people's opinions, I thought that the way of communication must have been considered. I did the work "Reader's Theater," I thought that how nice way this is! And I wanted to practice if I became a teacher in the future! However, as Gami said, there are not positive students in the classroom. So not all students like "Reader's Theater." Besides if teachers force shy students to speak in front of many classmates, they will not like the English class and English itself as Rice said. Although the best thing is that shy students like English itself, it's a little difficult. So teachers should make a good atmosphere. Students often fear making a mistake. In the classroom, there is needed a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. I think that shy students don't speak not only the English class but also the other classes at their own accord. Therefore the atmosphere of the classroom is important. I agree with Guwashi's opinion very much.

gami said...

I said that there are many kinds of students in the classroon.(There are not only positive and cheerful students but also negative and quiet students in the class.) So we should not call on shy students easily, we should call on students after we could understant students's character well. I still think so. Because,we may hurt their feelings by calling on them. Whether students are interested in the subject or not depend on they like the teacher. So we should behave carefully, and take full responsibility for our behavior.
But I think it is also important to call on students, because they had better practice speaking in front of other students. However if we could make good relationship with the shy students, and we could win their confidence, the students will be able to speak in front of other stidents themselves. I think the only things that we can do for shy students are to accustom them to surroundungs and try to know them well. And they will try to speak themselves.

keena said...

I agree with the idea there are 2 types of shy students. For the students who want to express their own opinions which are hidden by their shyness, teachers should call on them.There are 2 reasons why I think so.

1. First, if the teacher would not call on the students, they cannot have opputunities to tell their own opinions. Though they have their own opinions and want to say, they are too shy to express their opinions in front of other students. So I think teachers should help shy students to express their opinions.

2. Second, all students would be happy if a teacher speaks to them because they want to be noticed and be spoken to by a teacher. Even shy students think so. So teachers should try to speak to shy students actively.

Nevertheless it can be a stress for shy students to express their thought in front of other students. So what is the most important thing for teachers is to make a sociable atmosphere so that shy students can express their thought in a relax way. If there is relax mood in the class and everyone tells their opinions freely, shy students might think it is natural to express their thoght voluntarily and they can express their opinions at ease.

Next, for the students who do not like to present anything in front of other students, teachers should not force them to speak. If a teacher can make a great lesson, they might enjoy the class. So, it depends on teachers'competence how to make enjoyable class. Anyway, making a sociable atmosphere is the most important.

riverdance said...

My opinion is "Teachers can call on shy students".
First of all, I am a very shy student. I almost never talked my opinion in front of the classmates. In my case, I don't have a reason why I say nothing in the class. But I listen to my teacher and classmates, I am not indifferent to the class but I don't say anything. To tell the truth, I don't know why. I think many studens have the same opinion as mine.

If the teacher asks the student to speak something beforehand, the student can prepare for speaking.

If I am called on, I can speak.

cube said...

I think this is a difficult question for me. If I were a teacher, what can I do?
As Gami said, I also attended "Readers' Theatre". I was really interested in it and I enjoyed myself. After the event, I discussed "Readers' Theatre" with the participants. There were many good points about it, but some junior high school teachers pointed out bad points. One of them, there was similar problem in it. That is, this "Readers' Theatre" is difficult for shy students to attend. I think so, too, at first. But I think a teacher don't have to have compassion for shy students. What I want to say to the students is don't be afraid, don't be afraid mistakes. Even a shy student, he or she could change by situation or environment. So did I. In speech or presentation are good chance to shy students to take courage, I think.
In class, it is difficult for shy students to remark something. So, a teacher or classmates help them and need to accept warm feelings. I think the first step for shy students is making a pair or a group in class and working together. Then, a teacher call on shy students finally.

ex-AET said...

my question is why waste time being shy? being shy gets you nowhere in life. should teachers call on shy students? of course. should shy students have panic attacks when called on? of course not. now, repeatedly calling on someone who there is no chance will respond, that is what we call "beating a dead horse" and serves no purpose.
but as students must be prepared for real life, yes, they have to learn how to communicate. everyone should eventually be able to express themselves in a manner that they themselves are satisfied with as well as one that is acceptable in the public arena.

ayu said...

I also attended the "Readers' Theater", and thought it was very difficult for shy students.
It is a difficult problem, so I don't know how can I hundle shy students....But I think teachers should not force students to speak in front of the other students, if the student don't want to do it. If teacher were impatient about the situation and made the student speak,the student might feel horrible, I think.
I have a friend who had never spoken in the school. She changed her school when she was a elementary s tudent, and she was very shy so she couldn't speak in front of the new classmates at the first day of her new school.Then, her teacher forced her to speak. So she felt big pressure, and from the day she never said a word in the school....I think the teacher should wait and see her. So I think if there were a student who reluctant to speak, teacher should wait.

Eri said...

I will also talk about "Reader's Theatre". It was very fun for me, because I could enjoy reading with some classmates. I felt so interesting stories which a teacher changed last part, but students may not understand the means. It may be difficult for students to find them interesting.
And also I did't know that how should teachers do for shy students in activities as a role play which every students read their own parts. It could be difficult for shy students to read in front of other students. But I want every students, of course including shy students to enjoy speaking English...

apple said...

I think this topic is very difficult.Because I think teachers should not call on shy students,but teachers have necessity to support shy students.
My opinion is should not call on shy students.When I was junior high school student, I was good at English. So I liked English.I presented in front of classmates activity every class. My friend was good at English too.Her scores were high every examination.But she was very shy.She didn't present very much in the class.But she could understand English well.
I thought she didn't need teacher's call.By my experience, I thought teachers should correspond students'characters.If teachers find students who want to present but can't step forward, teachers should call on the students.If calling on students is reverse effect for students,teachers should not call on students.Then teachers must have ability to watch students who don't want to present to the end.

peanuts said...

This is very difficult ploblem for teacher. I think all of people have many personalities, So, students too. So, it is difficult for all of people to do everyone same things. I think it is same for education field. If I was one of the shy syudent, I will not want to call on for teacher. Because, I don't want my classmetes to mistake like I can't understand, as I really want to speak sometings, I couldn't speak anythings. Also, if teacher concerned about me too much, I will feel sad that teacher handled only me as privileged. So, teacher should find some good things a shy student have. And, thacher should have it develop. It may connect with a shy students's confidence. I think it is important than teacher have every students do same thing.

team_orepan said...

I am an English teacher of Jr high school in Hokkaido. James and I are friends. I try to say what
I'm thinking on teaching English...

I think we should be calling on shy students. But to do so, we have to think about some things.

I think the roll of the JTE in Jr High is to grow up their communication skills with 80% of pattern practice and 20% of communication task. we want students speak English, but there are many problems on them.

1, mood of the class for the mistake

Many Educational books for EFL teachers say we have to encourage the studens to speak something in the class. But I think we have to make the mood that the students want to speak in the class before having them spoke.

2, the lack of the communication skil

Especially in Jr High, we have to recognize that most of the students don't have the knowledge enough to communicate in English, for example vocabulary, grammar, strategies to make a conversation, and contents that they want to speak. For the last part, it is more appropriate that they can't create the content how they can say or what they want to say rather than they don't have what to speak. That is to say, they have the lack of the communication skill in the laguage.

3, the relationship between the students

I think this is the biggest problem. Present-day students have a problem to make a good relation to others. So we need to teach how to communicate to others even in English or in Japanese. We mustn't deal with their lack of the communication skill as ther personality! This problem should be dealed with not only in English class but as an educational problem.

Anyway, to teach English effectively, we have to be encouraging the shy students' challenges and denying their bad behaviors.

m&m said...

 I think it depends on the case and the questions. If the question has certain answer (the answer of A is only B), the teacher should do. However, if the question doesn’t have certain answer like discussion, the teacher should not force his or her students to answer. In this case, I think the teacher should wait.

Anonymous said...

team_orepan, no offence intended but for an English teacher your standard of written English is awful. It's "role" not "roll". There are a host of other glaring mistakes as well. Sorry but I'm just amazed that you can call yourself an English teacher and write such sub-standard English. At the very least use a dictionary when you write and teach your students to do the same. As a teacher and an example to your students you cannot afford to be lazy and sloppy.

MsEnglishTeacher said...

I am torn on this subject. I believe that all students should be called upon during the course of the school year. I function within the high school setting with a variety of grade levels and have found that if the entire class is given a question or set of questions to answer, and all students are told, must provide an answer, then I routinely go through every student to hear everyone's answer. In this way, shy students don't feel as if they are singled out. Also, I usually try to speak to the shy student more often on a one-on-one basis in order to build the teacher-student relationship first, thereby allowing these students to feel more comfortably with just speaking in general, and speaking specifically to the teacher. I understand that the teacher can be seen as intimidating and try to encourage all student to talk, and as a result, the shy ones come along as well. These are just my thoughts on the subject. Thank you!

paul said...

Hi Jimbo,

I'm looking for a native English instructor for an upcoming company class with CES near JR Iwate-iioka station starting July. 10-12 one morning a week, 4,500 yen per hour. Happen to be interested or know anyone ? Hope to hear from you !

Paul Nicholas
CES Co., Ltd.
06-6346-2148
paul@cesjapan.co.jp
www.cesjapan.co.jp

JH said...

Dear Ms. English Teacher,
Thank you for your comment. Just out of curiosity which country do you teach in?
In Japan, calling on a student in front of a class can be traumatic even for students who are not so shy. I very rarely ask students out-of-the-blue questions but rather have them do pair work on a particular task and then call on individuals from various pairs to tell the class what they talked about or their answer. I have found that by doing this, even the shy students, for the most part, will be able to respond to questions asked to them in front of the whole class. I am sure that you probably already know this, but, oh well, I wrote this anyway.
Cheers,
Jimbo

www.english123.eu said...

I think there should be less pressure for shy students because, in a way, calling on them can demoralize them in that little way. The better solution, I think, is to have a one-on-one session first to gauge the capacity of the student.

Anonymous said...

Im a very shy student , I will talk to him after or before class but never during. It makes me feel bad but I dont know what to do? Is it wrong? And have you had any students like this?

JH said...

Sorry for responding so late. There is nothing wrong with being shy. I have many shy students. Every student is different and that is what makes teaching exciting for me. I hope that you can build a good relationship with your teacher and classmates, it will help you feel less anxious about speaking.