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Losing interest in creating interest
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:04 am    Post subject: seemed a bit extreme Reply with quote

uhhhhhhh, that seemed a bit extreme, I am thinking it was a joke?

However, I WILL say, it is pretty noticeable to me the difference between kids in the language centers who are from higher incomes (in other words, kids whose parents are paying 5 bucks an hour for this) compared to kids who are NOT from this relative affluence. Seems pretty obvious to me, the more money in background, the more difficult the students. This may be especially true with teenaged boys. Of course, it is not ALWAYS the case with every child, there are a few students that are quite serious and a real joy to work with.

While I do agree we have a lot of problems with this kind of student, I do not find that them trying to control how we teach is a big one. Maybe if the students see the teacher is someone who appears lost, they feel more confident about this. If you have command presence, they tend to at least respect that you know what you are doing. The only real manifestation of that (thinking they should control what is taught) I have seen a lot of in my work with them is the excessive desire to play games rather than have a real lesson. I think if our guys would be a little better about looking like a teacher and acting like a teacher, the students might actually think we ARE teachers, and at least assume we know what we are doing. This is not going to stop them from all the rest of the discipline problems that they tend to have. This also ties into the VN perceptions thing, which is why they will hire someone who looks like a native speaker (a Spaniard for example) over someone who is but does not look like one (a Viet Kieu who even speaks both languages for example). So people who are taller, or look mature, or are in shape, or have blue eyes are at a natural advantage here. I guess that is true everywhere, but I think it is taken to an extreme here. Anyway, if our guys would shave, wear clean professional looking clothing, not be hung over, those things would help a lot with having the students respect the teacher.

I do think the lower level teacher's excessive leaning on games instead of a proper lesson is a real problem, it makes the kids think that is what a lesson is supposed to be, and even affects the learning atmosphere negatively for the next class the kids go to. I have had VN teachers tell me that the kids were way too excited after some crazy stuff foreign teachers would do, and they would have a hard time getting settled for further learning afterwards. This games thing seems like a real problem to me, I think our guys lean on them way too much. While they can be productive in some scenarios, I think the way our guys use them, on balance the focus on games is a negative.
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:26 am    Post subject: Re: Losing interest in creating interest Reply with quote

vabeckele wrote:
VietCanada wrote:
I have noticed that some classes or students I teach once or twice a week seem to treat each lesson as though it's an episode of a TV show.

It does seem to me that here in this place one must have strategies to deal with criticism from time to time.

I've tried various things ranging from Snollygoster's method to votes to outright capitulation. It depends on my judgement at the time.


Yes, it's as if we are all in some kind of strange casting studio with 10-15 zany judges.

My strategy is to drink a bottle of gin in my underpants in a dark room, singing, 'I will be loved' or 'behind blue eyes'.


In your experience might that technique work with 'I Know you're Out There Somewhere' and a bottle of Bacardi 1873?
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:47 am    Post subject: Re: seemed a bit extreme Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
uhhhhhhh, that seemed a bit extreme, I am thinking it was a joke?

However, I WILL say, it is pretty noticeable to me the difference between kids in the language centers who are from higher incomes (in other words, kids whose parents are paying 5 bucks an hour for this) compared to kids who are NOT from this relative affluence. Seems pretty obvious to me, the more money in background, the more difficult the students. This may be especially true with teenaged boys. Of course, it is not ALWAYS the case with every child, there are a few students that are quite serious and a real joy to work with.

While I do agree we have a lot of problems with this kind of student, I do not find that them trying to control how we teach is a big one. Maybe if the students see the teacher is someone who appears lost, they feel more confident about this. If you have command presence, they tend to at least respect that you know what you are doing. The only real manifestation of that (thinking they should control what is taught) I have seen a lot of in my work with them is the excessive desire to play games rather than have a real lesson. I think if our guys would be a little better about looking like a teacher and acting like a teacher, the students might actually think we ARE teachers, and at least assume we know what we are doing. This is not going to stop them from all the rest of the discipline problems that they tend to have. This also ties into the VN perceptions thing, which is why they will hire someone who looks like a native speaker (a Spaniard for example) over someone who is but does not look like one (a Viet Kieu who even speaks both languages for example). So people who are taller, or look mature, or are in shape, or have blue eyes are at a natural advantage here. I guess that is true everywhere, but I think it is taken to an extreme here. Anyway, if our guys would shave, wear clean professional looking clothing, not be hung over, those things would help a lot with having the students respect the teacher.

I do think the lower level teacher's excessive leaning on games instead of a proper lesson is a real problem, it makes the kids think that is what a lesson is supposed to be, and even affects the learning atmosphere negatively for the next class the kids go to. I have had VN teachers tell me that the kids were way too excited after some crazy stuff foreign teachers would do, and they would have a hard time getting settled for further learning afterwards. This games thing seems like a real problem to me, I think our guys lean on them way too much. While they can be productive in some scenarios, I think the way our guys use them, on balance the focus on games is a negative.


I've definitely noticed a difference in the negative behaviours of private school students compared to public school students. Mostly boys as you said.

I'm not a fan of games. I find many or most of the VN co-teachers or ATs I've had suggest games at the end of a lesson. They seem to expect it. I prefer an activity that involves them using whatever vocab or grammar that I am teaching them or reviewing.

I've often found that kids who had an immediately prior session with the VN or Korean English teacher are often tired or agitated and prone to poor behaviour. Over-stimulation I think from games, lesson intensity or candy.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:00 am    Post subject: Behaviour Reply with quote

I have noticed the same thing: There would be no way a young adult or child would be able to express any individuality in a Vietnamese school. When these students are suddenly allowed to speak and form an opinion it creates such an explosion of neural activity it becomes too much for them to bare. Hence the really strange behaviour we encounter in the classroom - Beginning to question everything, sniggering, and behaviour that a child would display is shown in young adults as old as 19.

It is not all on the Vietnamese people; us Westerners have been allowed so much freedom to mess our lives up, and a lot of that comes out here in the form of individuals that should be nowhere near young impressionable minds in a learning environment. We are also partially to blame.

@VietCanada - Yes, I'll give that a try when I hit the next wall.
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I came across this article "Students get revenge for bad marks with critical online professor reviews " while reading a newspaper this morning. It is a write up of a study done at the U of Ottawa.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/students-get-revenge-for-bad-marks-with-critical-online-professor-reviews/article4551187/

I'm not sure it's news or even that this is exactly the correct thread for it but I believe it is a possible implicit context when discussing student comments.

An excerpt- "Of course, she concedes that itís not surprising that bad marks in a class would prompt a student to give a negative evaluation of the professor - just as good marks are more likely to prompt a positive one. But the findings, she says, continue to raise questions about the validity of student evaluations and how they should be interpreted - as well as the not-so-subtle pressure they place on professors to give grades for sub-par work."

OTOH I have to wonder about what kind of student evals the author(s) get.
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biliana



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 53
Location: Vietnam

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A head of department in a top UK university, a man who is chosen to tutor Royals on the fine arts, an author with more than a dozen publications was recently given 2 out of 5 in a student survey.

Not the most popular professor obviously!
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Student feedback though an expected part of EFL for as long as I can remember is no substitute for proper observations by competent and impartial observers.

If I were running a large school with numerous staff, I'd hand out the feedback surveys and scan through them looking for any obvious patterns. If 5 out 12 students give a teacher a bad evaluation or a lot of feedback sheets are absent, I'd make a point of observing that teacher. First time they'd get advance notice of several days - then a follow up drop in unannounced about 10 minutes in to a class. (this avoids the 'magic observed lesson plan scam')

If they were doing badly out of laziness or a bad attitude they'd be in line for replacement ASAP. If it was lack of training/skills then I'd try to give them some coaching/advice and see if they improved.

But if a shool is using the feedback as a stick to beat the teachers - which I have seen, then all you can do as a teacher is work elsewhere (ASAP).
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 403
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
Student feedback though an expected part of EFL for as long as I can remember is no substitute for proper observations by competent and impartial observers.

If I were running a large school with numerous staff, I'd hand out the feedback surveys and scan through them looking for any obvious patterns. If 5 out 12 students give a teacher a bad evaluation or a lot of feedback sheets are absent, I'd make a point of observing that teacher. First time they'd get advance notice of several days - then a follow up drop in unannounced about 10 minutes in to a class. (this avoids the 'magic observed lesson plan scam')

If they were doing badly out of laziness or a bad attitude they'd be in line for replacement ASAP. If it was lack of training/skills then I'd try to give them some coaching/advice and see if they improved.

But if a shool is using the feedback as a stick to beat the teachers - which I have seen, then all you can do as a teacher is work elsewhere (ASAP).


For those of us working in a mill, student evaluations can be thrown in the bin. We're in the service industry, so we're giving them what they want, which is in many cases, is entertainment. Granted, some classes can be mature and have eager learners, then there are the students who just want to meet friends and be entertained. I'm not into "edutainment" and while most of my classes go well, I sometimes get criticized for lack of games and not being fun enough. The demands from some adult students makes me wonder why I bother sometimes.

I'm willing to be observed, even at zero notice, as long as the observations are done by experienced people. I don't want someone with an unrelated Masters and 3 years' experience telling me what I'm doing wrong. I want someone with 10 years'+ and with a DELTA. The problem in the mills is they usually hire from within, so the talent pool is rather low. I doubt someone is going to fly over and be interviewed or be hired sight-unseen from abroad so you've only got local talent to choose from. Inexperienced people doing observations either say "Wow, that was amazing" or feel obliged to find something wrong; usually something very petty and minor. These same people are gone a year or two later, off back home with "management" experience on their CV. The real teachers are teaching, not pretending to be a co-ordinator.

I agree in principle with evaluations, but to me they don't mean much. I'd like to be assessed by CELTA trainers, at least they have some idea what they're doing.
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Mattingly



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some good comments in the posts above, IMO.

In public schools, the most important thing (IMO) is being liked or approved by the Principal or your manager/director.

In the private EFL schools student surveys/evaluation are most important. Private EFL schools are a business.

The first thing I do is find out how the students want to do things. I try to 'give them what they want' in general.

Sometimes, it's entertainment, sometimes it's comedy and stories, with 'learning' sprinkled in.

Rapport is very important, and being "liked" holds a lot of weight in student evaluations in the private 'mills.'

I know some experienced teachers that after years, have not really figured this out. They get consistent negative feedback and their hours are cut or their contract is not renewed.

Give them what they want. The learners are customers. Cater to the 'learner wants.'

When it comes to teens I do not fight them or push them, I am their 'buddy' and I pull them my way.

As for observations, I agree with Kurtz in that one it is fine to have a blind observation or planned one if the observer is 1. impartial and 2. have experience and training. (This latter is often not the case however.)
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Porlestone



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 95
Location: Asia

PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mattingly wrote:
........

Give them what they want. The learners are customers. Cater to the 'learner wants.'

When it comes to teens I do not fight them or push them, I am their 'buddy' and I pull them my way.


Not entirely untrue, but you ultimately need to have respect for yourself. I don't want to feel like I'm there serving them or anyone. I have really low respect for 'play the game' type teachers that just try to work the system and kiss up. Not at all saying that's you, I am saying I've seen them around. In my opinion they are the ones that wreck the system and send a bad message to students and staff alike. "Teacher John gets results, but he's a bit of a hard nose and keeps his distance from us. Teacher Bob is a real clown in front of the students and he stops by the office everyday to say hi. Let's get rid of the first teacher, John, and give all the hours to Bob." A reality that I've witnessed.

As for teens, I do "fight" them (a harsh word but we can use it for now), and I become their "buddy" only after they agree to go my way. I'm talking of the younger teens of course, as I notice the old teens are different.
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Mattingly



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Porlestone wrote:
Mattingly wrote:
........

Give them what they want. The learners are customers. Cater to the 'learner wants.'

When it comes to teens I do not fight them or push them, I am their 'buddy' and I pull them my way.


Not entirely untrue, but you ultimately need to have respect for yourself. I don't want to feel like I'm there serving them or anyone. I have really low respect for 'play the game' type teachers that just try to work the system and kiss up. Not at all saying that's you, I am saying I've seen them around. In my opinion they are the ones that wreck the system and send a bad message to students and staff alike. "Teacher John gets results, but he's a bit of a hard nose and keeps his distance from us. Teacher Bob is a real clown in front of the students and he stops by the office everyday to say hi. Let's get rid of the first teacher, John, and give all the hours to Bob." A reality that I've witnessed.

As for teens, I do "fight" them (a harsh word but we can use it for now), and I become their "buddy" only after they agree to go my way. I'm talking of the younger teens of course, as I notice the old teens are different.


Yes, I may have sounded like the 'kiss up' type, but I certainly am not. I have respect for myself, and I also am in control of the class. I have my own ways, and I will not let teens tell me or try to make me do things just because they want them done. But buy "give them what they want" is a part of keeping them content enough as I do view them as customers.

I mostly teach adults now.

Teens do need to be led most of the time. I give them leeway on certain things and that is the "give them what they want part." I give them pieces. Nuggets.

As for adults (corporates mainly) they need to drive the class in most respects. Learner needs.

I never liked the "Mr. Popular" types. They were popular yes - for the short duration of 4-6 hours per week of a class that usually lasted for a couple months. And these Mr. Populars often only do EFL for a short time before leaving the field to go back home or wherever.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12384
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reality is that most people learning a foreign langauge have no idea of what they are doing or
how to do it right. Why should they ? They have never done it before !
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kona



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 143
Location: Busan, South Korea

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VietCanada wrote:
I came across this article "Students get revenge for bad marks with critical online professor reviews " while reading a newspaper this morning. It is a write up of a study done at the U of Ottawa.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/students-get-revenge-for-bad-marks-with-critical-online-professor-reviews/article4551187/

I'm not sure it's news or even that this is exactly the correct thread for it but I believe it is a possible implicit context when discussing student comments.

An excerpt- "Of course, she concedes that itís not surprising that bad marks in a class would prompt a student to give a negative evaluation of the professor - just as good marks are more likely to prompt a positive one. But the findings, she says, continue to raise questions about the validity of student evaluations and how they should be interpreted - as well as the not-so-subtle pressure they place on professors to give grades for sub-par work."

OTOH I have to wonder about what kind of student evals the author(s) get.


This is not always the case though, at least in the west. I just finished my MA TESOL in the states, and I had to take a lower level bilingual education class to substitute for another class that wasn't available due to scheduling conflicts. The teacher made the class ridiculously easy, and everyone got an A. I talked with all the other students about the evaluations we were filling out, and everyone gave her low marks, because they felt they hadn't learned anything!

Many students do want to get tangible skills out of the classes they take (don't know about vietnam though). Also, professors can be professors solely for the capacity to get published and/or for their research. Some of them can't teach worth a darn though.

Often times, students surveys are done far too quickly and expected far too quickly. I often think that the qualitative part of surveys should be emphasized more than the aggregate data from a quantitative survey as written defenses of good or poor marks can help students anonymously articulate the strengths and weaknesses of their instruction. That's my two cents, and sorry for somewhat detracting from the OP's post...
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Riding One



Joined: 25 Jul 2006
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
The reality is that most people learning a foreign langauge have no idea of what they are doing or
how to do it right. Why should they ? They have never done it before !


I have had experienced with this a few times.

For 95% of my students English as a Foreign Language (English) is the only foreign language they've ever studied.

They often lack studies skills and even ask for "strategies on how to learn/remember vocabulary." I actually have to tell many students to write a new word down and to buy a small notebook for vocab. This is my job and I give them information on learning styles and how to identify their own learning style and how to get vocabulary into their long-term memory.

I do not have an MA in Applied Linguistics but I've read lots of books on the topic and language acquisition and have lots of experience in a couple of different countries.

Some parents and students understand this; some parents and students don't.
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manaroundthetown



Joined: 15 Sep 2012
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not teach English in HCMC but I help my Vietnamese wife run a small English centre in the evenings. And the most popular teachers are the entertainers not the serious teacher with a delta ma etc, in fact those teachers have failed. The students love the teacher who is a clown and a wig or plastic nose to wear also helps. The school has started a new course for adults called English for entertainment and the curriculum is based on cartoons, animation videos etc and they love it. One of the modules is on KPOP and the latest lesson focussed on Gangnam and I loved watching the students singing and doing the horse dance. Lets be honest, the name of the game in EFL is entertainment. Just do it.
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