Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Exams over

On this last day of exams for my classes, I gave two exams, both of them in Conversation classes. The students wrote a brief exam while I interviewed other students to test their ability to use the target language.

Everyone did alright. I will miss this particular group. They came in really not very enthusiastic about English. (there is an understatement) Now some of them are relatively enthusiastic, and one student, the one who was most difficult in the early days, says that English is his favorite class now.

This student is great to watch. In enneagram terms, he is an eight. This morning he came in the room and sat down next to me. That is unusual, because, even though we sit with our desks in a square, I was sitting in front of the blackboard, nearest to the door, where the lectern is positioned, obviously the position of power in the room. Though I sit different places during class and I try to change the position of power to where the students are, most of the equipment in the room is fixed, and I was sitting in the driver's seat. I can never remember anyone in 18 years of teaching in Japan who willingly chose to sit in that position when other options were available, as there were today. My strategy with him, as with any other student in the class, is to remind them that they have the power; they are in control of their destiny in this particular class. It worked with this student.

I hope more students begin to push some boundries. The testing regimin here is so overwhelming, that students feel that there is only one right answer, one right way to do things, and that everything else is wrong. During yesterday's exam a student asked several questions about the ways that he written parts of the exam. For each of the questions that he had there were several different ways of approaching it. I assured him that his were alright, too.

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