Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You need to be quiet...

In general, Koreans don't have the same degree of "I shouldn't be talking now" that we do in Western countries.  For example, Koreans will talk with their friends, chat, laugh, and talk on the phone in the middle of a marriage ceremony or through a movie.  In class, the same deal.  Talking to friends, text-messaging, talking on their's really no big deal in a class with a Korean professor.   Now, maybe it's just that, despite that people have described me as being more Korean than a Korean, I still think like a Westerner in a lot of ways.  This includes the need for students to be quiet in the classroom, if I, or another student is talking. 

How does this counter-cultural requirement get enforced in my classroom?  I start early, from the very first minute I start talking on that first day of class.  I explicitly state it as a rule.  If someone is talking when I'm talking, I'll stop the class and just look at the person, with a not-so-impressed look on my face.  They know what they're doing and will stop.  Or their friends will tell them. 

If the problem is persistent, I will do one of two things.  1. If I like the student, and they generally try hard but are just talkative, I'll separate them from their friends and give them the "special seat" at the front of the class, alone.  2. If I don't like the student and they don't try in class and talk just to be obnoxious or make me angry, I'll give them 2 warnings and on the third, I'll kick them out and mark them absent. 

Doing either of these 2 things sends the message that you're serious about the rule and any further problems are generally minimal. 

Why do I care so much (besides the obvious fact that I think it's very rude and it's a basic respect thing)?  If I was just lecturing, I wouldn't really bother because the students who wanted to listen would sit at the front and ignore the people talking at the back.  But my class in an English conversation class, where it is vital that everyone is listening because we do so many different types of activities and games.  If students don't listen to my instructions, class would be chaos and it just wouldn't work.  And, although I do very little in the way of lecturing (5 minutes a class usually), what I do say is of vital importance and students need to listen and understand if life is going to be happy for them in class and on the tests.   

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