Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

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Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby kushalppathak » 05 May 2009, 10:46

Hi
I am an ESL teacher teaching in a public school in China.I am having difficulties with my grade 2(11-13 years old) ESL class. The students in this school come from affluent families.They think that the Spoken English class is just for playing games & watching movies.Any other activity that I try with them is instantaneously rejected which means no participation from them.They are also little arrogant in front of the students of other classes which only adds to the trouble :( .Talking to their (Chinese) English teacher about this works for a while & then everything goes back to where it started. They are an intelligent class & get very good grades in the exams(including the English written tests).So I guess the only problem is with their attitude. To be honest I am not so experienced in tackling problems like these :oops: , so I am asking for help.
I need guidance from the experienced ESL teachers & forum members as to how I can cope with this situation & help the students so that they continue improving their Oral English skills. Any help in this case is highly appreciated as I am running short of ideas.
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby Peter Easton » 07 May 2009, 04:44

kushalppathak wrote:Hi
They are an intelligent class & get very good grades in the exams(including the English written tests).


Can't see what the problem is in this case. Just enjoy your classes and go with the flow. English is supposed to be fun, no?
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby kushalppathak » 07 May 2009, 05:54

Yes, I do agree that ESL classes are meant to be fun. But the student's complacency is hampering their acquisition. Their conceit is doing more harm than good. I am having a hard time finding activities that can hold their attention.Can you recommend some speaking activities for such above-average uppity students?
Thanks for the reply
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby Peter Easton » 07 May 2009, 22:36

There are a thousand activities you can do but I would also give the kids weekly tests and make make the tests hard. Remember, loss of face is a good motivator for Chinese people.
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby systematic » 09 May 2009, 04:04

I think affluent families are the key words here.
What the OP is describing is fairly typical in any country, especially when the students are spoiled brats who know that they will be able to laze away their adult lives on family money without needing to educate themselves for a career. Losing face is of secondary importance to wealthy people, whatever their culture generally expects.

In developing countries, some teachers in situations like these opt for an easy way by simply teaching to the wall at the back of the classroom, knowing that the school will fake the the students' test results anyway (even in the universities).
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby kushalppathak » 04 Jun 2009, 10:43

Thanks for your idea "Peter". I've already taken some tests(easy as well as difficult ones) but the results are of no importance as we the foreign teachers are not a part of the student assessment at any level & hence the outcomes don't matter much.

I am starting to agree with what "systematic" has to say because I feel that we the FTs are hired merely to meet a terribly resented national educational requirement. Even the students know that their actions in my class are not going to have any effect at all, so they expect me to monkey around in the class & entertain them all the time.And the school seems to be least worried about all of this either.
Although I am trying hard to keep the spirits high & try & make things work for me, I am at the at the end of my rope now.
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby Doogs » 24 Aug 2009, 23:09

kushalppathak wrote:
I am starting to agree with what "systematic" has to say because I feel that we the FTs are hired merely to meet a terribly resented national educational requirement. Even the students know that their actions in my class are not going to have any effect at all, so they expect me to monkey around in the class & entertain them all the time.And the school seems to be least worried about all of this either.


Bingo! Oral English will account for about 15 percent of the students overall mark, and bear in mind they will be tested by non native speakers, who's own English may not be that good either. FT's in a lot of middle schools are at best an expensive decoration used to reassure parents that their little darlings are receiving the best education possible, and worst a pain in the neck that the school has to deal with because the government says so. Some Schools will parade their FT around at every function and often the Schools senior officers will invite them out to show off to their friends. You are not required to teach, the Chinese English teachers do that, you are there to be listened to, like a live CD of English language. It's crap, and it's hard to deal with if you actually want to teach and feel some sense of achievement, but until you can find a job teaching either business English, or a university job teaching genuinely interested people, it is a necessary evil if you want to stay in China.

A couple of strategies are, find out exactly how much of their final mark comes from their oral exam and let them know, and tell them their English sucks and if they don't start paying some attention it will show in their marks. Remind them that their parents want them to do as well as possible, and if they don't pay attention and study hard to be the best they can be they are disrespecting their parents. If they are above average then raise the bar, give them tasks they have to listen carefully to in order to achieve. Tell them at the end of every lesson how they did, if they sucked let them know. Tell them that other classes are catching up or overtaking them, because they have more respect for your lessons and are more willing to learn. Even if they aren't, your overachievers have no way of knowing that.

Finally, try to lower your expectations of yourself a bit. Teaching in Chinese middle and senior schools is a unique experience, that is unlikely to equip you to teach any where else, i.e. anywhere where they have a half decent education system that encourages people to think. Your role is closer to an entertainer than a teacher, and however hard that is to hear, it is the truth. Think about how well paid you are though, and how much free time you have to eat, drink and be merry in China. Learning the language is a huge help when it comes to making the most of your time in China. Meditate, it helps a lot.
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby jenny1980 » 26 Aug 2009, 17:19

Hi Kushalppathak,

I am so sorry you are having difficulty with your students. There is nothing worse than an arrogant CHILD. I am in Peru, and some of the universities have the same issues - children from very affluent families. I teach in my home, and my problem is adult students not showing up or showing up really late. :roll: Anyhoo....totally different topic.

I have a suggestion. Have you thought of making the students teach the class. Is that appropriate where you teach, as in, would they allow that? So you tell each student to prepare a 10 minute lesson for the class (or whatever timeframe works, obviously it'll take a couple of days to get through them all) and they are responsible for teaching it. So they will get up there and encounter the not listening, etc that goes on. Maybe they will show more respect after being put on the spot like that, maybe not. It will at least give you a little insight into how they view you as a teacher as they might imitate you or better yet they may shine under the pressure. It seems they like being "on the spot" anyway. So turn the light on a little brighter. It might shake things up in the class a little bit. They might enjoy the challenge.

Just my 2 cents. :D

Jenny
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Re: Help! How to deal with an arrogant ESL class?

Unread postby sjbeale » 29 May 2010, 13:26

I have exactly the same problem!! Every time I mention the book they let out a communal groan. It's frustrating as the course books we have to work with are awful too. I just don't have time to prepare something special for them all the time and, to add to the joys of teaching this lot, I am being observed teaching them on Friday! Oh well! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated by myself also!
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