Loudspeaker Teachers

One of the toughest things about teaching college students in South Korea is that they never, ever ask me questions.  As an American raised on student-centered, interactive style classrooms, it’s strange to have to beg students to ask me questions.  (At least at my college, I’m one of the few teachers who doesn’t use the microphone / speaker set-up that’s available in every classroom.)

But hey, it’s Korea.  The teacher/professor-as-loudspeaker standard is the norm here and it probably won’t change any time soon:

“After finishing a semester abroad, her classes back in Korea were a marked turnaround from those in the United States. The professors simply read their written lectures, from beginning to end, off an overhead projector screen. And seldom did they pose questions to the class. When they did, they were mostly rhetorical.

This one-sided teaching style is common among Korea’s universities, according to the results of one-on-one interviews conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo and Research & Research.

In the analysis, aimed at 6,800 second-, third- and fourth-year university students from 37 Korean universities, only 12.7 percent said that they received one or more questions per class from the professor.”

Frankly, if you’re only exposing students to interactive and discussion-based classes at the college level, it’s too late to properly wean them off of the loudspeaker standard.  I’m glad Korean universities are realizing they’ve got a problem but you need to instill the habits of active listening and asking good questions at a much younger age.

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This entry was posted in ESL, Korea, South Korea, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Loudspeaker Teachers

  1. I face a very similar problem with my students here in Thailand. I teach ages 9-11 and it is always a cause for celebration whenever I see one of their hands raise. For some of them I feel it is shyness about how they will sound (saving face and all that jazz). The Thai classes also force them to adhere to what you called the “lowdspeaker standard” and it’s near impossible to break. When I do though, I love getting questions from them no matter how rare or small they may be.

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