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Quick Write 091711 “Silence means NO engagement?”

If you have a chance to go into a teacher’s room, please listen to what teachers say during their break. It’s very interesting. One of the most common comments, not complaints, is that the students are response-less, inactive, and teachers can’t tell whether or not they’re focused on the task they’re doing. Well, I guess most of the teachers, especially English teachers, prefer active and response-full class, and so I do to some extent. It’s so sad if you have NO response or sheer silence when you pose a question or try to clarify something in classroom. But I also know that silence doesn’t necessarily mean boredom or absence of engagement. What do people do when they think about something seriously, when they try to understand what is difficult to understand? They smile? They respond quickly and lively? No. They’d look serious with almost no smile on their faces.

I’m aware that if it’s a communicative-focused class, silence might mean another thing. But if it’s a reading comprehension class for instance, the students will have hard time understanding what is written and they’re suffering from “mental burden” while processing the language. For me, it’s understandable that the serious, attentive, devoted hard work and concentration on the students’ side could turn out to be silent and response-less classroom atmosphere. The professor at grad school told us that students never smile when they’re trying to comprehend, absorb, and integrate what they’ve just learned, and silence doesn’t necessarily mean boredom or inattentiveness of the students. Well, that rings my bell. My fellow teachers and I often talk about the relationship between the activeness of the class members and their performance on the tests. I understand that any test will never fully represent or measure learners’ language ability, but it’s very interesting to see that the active and engaging class members do not necessarily outperform the less active, rather silent class members on the tests. So, it’s safe to say that silence in classroom doesn’t necessarily mean no engagement, but rather, it could be a proof that the students might be focused on the content even more seriously.

(20 minutes / 354 words)

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Aya

Author:Aya
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