What Would You Do?

Hi everyone,
I have’t written a blog post in forever, but I am back. I have a question for you. I will give you the context and invite you to share your advice.
What would you do?
International Students (mostly Asian) doing an EAP course. The students’ level is pretty much the same, but some do better in speaking than others. This session is a seminar/ discussion class. The students have been asked to write down a few questions they would ask their classmates and hold a discussion on X topic.
What happened
I put students in groups of four. Each student got to ask their question.
One of the stronger students asked a well formed complex question.
Student: XYZ. Why do you think this is?
Student A: XYZ. Why do you think this is?
Again silence.
Student A: XYZ. Why do you think this is?
Student B: I don’t understand the question…….
Student A: I have asked the question 3 times. What don’t you understand (voice high pitched and kinda angry).
Me: Ummmm, maybe you can try to use different words to ask the question. Why don’t you paraphrase?
Student A: I am they do not understand!!(getting more frustrated. Borderline pissed off).
Me: Ummmmm, maybe you should try again or why don’t you say what you think and give them some ideas. They might be able to answer your question that way…..
Student A: Grumbles…. repeats the question….
2015-05-30 12.42.20
So folks, discuss. What would you do?
I look forward to hearing your views and discussing with you in my comments section.
Till next time……

4 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. Being better at a subject is no excuse to look down on others or make them feel uncomfortable. If someone knows they’re a stronger student, they should also have the skills to paraphrase and find different ways to ask the question.

    I would have probably pointed out that they had just repeated themselves and kept the spotlight on them until they’d come up with a better way to express what they wanted to know. Maybe a bit harsh, but I take a firm approach if weaker students are being made to feel bad just because they don’t understand something!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe the student was not able to paraphrase the question. If you think about it, it’s quite tricky to find a synonymous expression for *Why do you this is?* which would be easier for the weaker students to understand. So, maybe, they felt lost and frustrated not primarily because they were not understood but because they felt they were failing in a way. I probably wouldn’t keep the spotlight on them but would help them paraphrase instead.


    • I understood it that the first student was just getting annoyed with the other one because they couldn’t answer the question that came after some fairly complex language. I have seen students doing that, and it’s not cool, because weaker students can get to the point where they don’t dare to say anything.

      If the first student were genuinely struggling to ask the question in another way, and they were frustrated with the situation as a whole, of course I’d try to help them too.

      Liked by 1 person

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