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How do you stop large classes of students from talking between themselves so much?

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tintinxmu
Joined: 02/04/2009
Posts: 82
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How do you stop large classes of students from talking between themselves so much?

Hi all,

 

I have been ruminating on a couple of previous experiences and I wonder how you stop this constant 'in talking' in the classroom.  Some are ok, but some are really really bad.  I know its a cultural thing, it seems to be normal for Chinese people, adults alike, to talk when others are talking, at meetings etc, but I have found this to be a really frustating thing.  How have others dealt with this?

 

Tintinxmu.

Robert
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Joined: 12/20/2008
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What age group are we talking about?

What level are we talking about here? Kids? Adults?

Franco
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Joined: 04/11/2009
Posts: 109
Points: 588
young people probably...

I think young people probably do more , speak and speak or do another than listen. I prefer each some minuts ask questions and I elect who are speaking, playing with movil or sending messages : with a big smile I ask any question and frecuently they stop to do other than listen the class. Normally adults pay more attention.

sayjaykay
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Joined: 03/03/2010
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Talking in class

I have taught primary and middle school last year and I didn't have a lot of problems.  If I did I sent offending students to the teachers office.  That pretty much tok care of it.  The Chinese teachers I have worked with were very responsive and some punished the students far more severly than I would have. 

That seemed to get the students attention.  I never had to send another student. 

Teacher Tom
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Joined: 01/02/2009
Posts: 517
Points: 2920
A couple of suggestions...

First, if you are blessed as I am with a very stong and resonant voice, a 3/4 volume "Quiet, Please"  seems to work well.  I only use that when the talking is making it diffciult for me to hear the student who has the floor - and I use it with primary school classes where, often, the parents the worst! 

Another thing I do is to speak very softly.  The kids who want to hear me are very effective in getting the talkative ones to shut up...

I am pretty strict about things that indicate that the student does not respect me as a teacher or their fellow students and have a fairly simple reward/penalty system...if you want too know more about it, just ask!I

I agree that this is a problem I do not understand.  The concept of "face" is so important in China and I feel that talking when someone else "holds the floor" must make the speaker lose face.  I will have to have a discussion with my wife about this!

 

Franco
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Joined: 04/11/2009
Posts: 109
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I try to resolve...

I try to resolve by myself, I think that they won't like if I can't take care of everybody by myself. So I prefer  not to say this to other teachers or director.

Teacher Tom
TACA President
Joined: 01/02/2009
Posts: 517
Points: 2920
So, I re-read your post and...

and the phrase "large classes" just clicked!.  Large classes where you have no idea of the students names?  You can still try my suggestions but my penalty system only works if you take attendance and know the names of the students...

If nothing else works, I would suggest asking a Chinese teacher to sit in on your class.  I have had that happen without asking and noticed a remarkable difference in behavior.

agatha
TACA President
Joined: 01/07/2009
Posts: 493
Points: 2852
Different things work at different times.

I do a mixture of things, sometimes I talk loudly and over the top of them. Sometimes I stop talking until they are quiet, if its just a small group together then I will shame them a bit. I have stood them up at the back of the room for part of the lesson and when really bad, threatened to take them to the head teacher office. I have threatened but it has not come to the point where I have had to do that.

ChinaBrian
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Joined: 05/12/2009
Posts: 92
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I'm a fairly easy going teacher

When it comes to class rules I have very few.  Day one I tell them that this is university not middle school.  That means if they do not do any homework assignements or projects I won't care, I'll give them zero but that's it.  They can come or go as they please as long as they are quiet, I don't take attendance either.  I told them "You all paid money to be here, so I expect you to be here." If they want to spend the term asleep at their desks that's their business, just as long as they don't ask me why they failed at the end of the term.  Welcome to university

So basically I treat them like adults.  If some are loud enough that it affects the class then I ask them to keep quiet or leave.  This has worked successfully for me thus far.

XiaoXiong
Joined: 03/29/2010
Posts: 20
Points: 155
Chicken Dance

I also luckily have a megaphone voice, which works wonders, but when they get really bad, I try to get the ringleader, who is often one the the "cool" kids, and then I play the chicken dance, and he has to do it in front of class and can't sit until he does it properly. I haven't had problems since. And if it's an individual, a quick trip to the head teacher will do the trick.

Henri
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Joined: 03/23/2010
Posts: 23
Points: 151
homework

I don't have many class rules, but i told my students if i wan't their attention i expect to get it.

If i have a disruptive student i warn him/her once, if that doesn't work i send them outside, and they get homework, i don't give homework in my classes, only as punishment, only had to do it once.

It went around the campus like wildfire, the foreign teacher can be strict if he has to be, now all my students know what to expect if they misbehave.

Henri
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vietnam

Hi Robert.

yeah the money the teachers get in Saigon is about the same as here in China, but they make more money from private tutoring than from the school.

Most of the once i talked to, sign a 6 month contract with a school, just to establish their private tutoring, after the 6 months they go private full time.

I flew over to VN, it's very cheap for a round trip, and you can get your tourist visa at the airport in Saigon, quick and easy.

tintinxmu
Joined: 02/04/2009
Posts: 82
Points: 489
Ages and more info

Thanks for all your replies.......Well I have had this a few times.  I have never had a Chinese teacher sit in my class although it was often suggested  (well once in Xiamen Uni when I complained bitterly about the textbooks being completely unsuitable for the level I was teaching) but nothing happened.  I know these kids are not like this for Chinese teachers.  At the last school, high school, kids 16 to 18 years, some classes were fine but a few were just dreadful, and I do have a good loud voice.  But I would stand there for several minutes trying to get them to stop, and eventually they did, but then started up again. This is not just one or two asking stuff, thats fine, I dont mind that, but its just constant background chatting, they are not listening to me and the ones who do want to listen cant..... I asked one class why, and they just said that they werent interested in English and it wasnt important to them, my marks had  no impact on their end of year marks so they didnt care.  They were totally open about it. In one class 30% of the kids didnt bother doing the end of term oral exam!!!   They just didint care. They siad they were too busy, or just hadnt done it, I failed them all.   They openly admitted they would never act like this for a Chinese teacher.  Threatening with the headmaster etc, didnt make much difference, and one time I went for him but he wastn there, no one in the office spoke English I finally got one of the head teachers over and we talked to one really bad guy who just sang and talked and played and made rude jokes all through every lesson.  He openly admitted to me and the other teacher (Chinese) that he thought I didnt like him so  he set out to make as much trouble for me as he could.  I send them out, make them sit at the back, separate them, alternate between talking loudly or softly, tried all the things I could think of, but didnt seem to work.  One school with classes of 20 to 25 year olds, like a private uni, were dreadful.  It is just a cultural thing, they loved me to bits, but just talked talked talked. One of the worst classes publicly apologised to me, and gave me a lovely card with written apology and a lovely gift, but from then on continued talking...  ahah.... I am in a private school now with adults and its lovely, no problems, but if I look for antoher job with bigger classes, the others were mostly around 40 per class and in some places I knew them all well by name,  well, I just thought I would see about how others dealt with it.  I udnerstand the comment by someone above at a uni, actually uni teaching has been fine, yes I would do that , but mostly these are younger students, middle and high school. I thought I would see how to deal with this...Sorry its a bit of a ramble...haha.

Tintin

damato
Joined: 09/11/2009
Posts: 65
Points: 385
if the students get too loud,

if the students get too loud, you can suddenly stop talking. Often, the students will sense that something is not right. Then the whole class may come to their senses and become completely quiet. At this moment, you can give them a serious-toned and strict speech about discipline. I tried this. it seemed working.

Elly
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Joined: 12/26/2008
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Points: 2066
It is a problem with big classes,

and especially if the level of English is not good.  One student tries to help the other.  I know of one teacher who walked out of the class and saying she would not accept the rudeness and the students ran after her and begged her to return.  That worked well.

I've just been to a "cultural festival event" held in the rain and the students did not stop talking and I heard nothing.  This is common too.

It is a shame the classes are so big.  I have up to 43 high school students in most of my classes.

 

indie48
Joined: 09/08/2009
Posts: 84
Points: 482
talking

I have no definitive answer either.  Classes are large with  very varied abilities from beginner to some with real potential to speak decent English if all of the stars could be aligned.   I stop talking, wait for silence & if it takes too long to occur naturally students usually tell the offender(s).  I find it more of a problem when a student has the floor.  I usually stop him/her; not a good thing, & wait for silence.  Standing  close to the offender also helps.  I had a student remain after class with a classmate as interpreter  to discuss the issue once.  Students had demanded a movie & when I eventually showed one I believed they had not seen, he decided he'd already seen it, was uninterested & so talked & texted.  He'd also been a problem a couple of weeks earlier at the first lesson during which he spontaneously apologised.    I  try to teach what students want,  within reason  and resources (we have no texts & I am dependent on students  downloading material from the net, which cramps my style) but I won't tolerate persistent distraction and interference with other students learning.  If he continues I will show him the door which will probably mean he fails the course.



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