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?


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.


Anonymous 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.


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.

Anonymous 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.

Olive 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.

Anonymous 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.

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!

Anonymous said...

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CES Co., Ltd.

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.
Jimbo 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.