Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Do You Understand Me?

Once again I had an experience that left me wondering about exchange students taking a public speaking class. Although my Japanese students seem to be okay when it comes to delivering speeches (far from good), they do not seem to be able to get involved with other aspects of the class.

One thing I do in my class is, every time a student gives a speech, another student has to get up and deliver a critique of the speech. This seems to work well for a number of reasons. First the speaker is getting some immediate feedback and gets to hear an opinion other than mine. In addition, the student who delivers the evaluation is learning an important skill as well; how to praise a speaker and deliver suggestions in a positive manner. This is something that has worked well. Unfortunately, when I have an exchange student evaluate, frequently the student admits, in the evaluation, to not understanding what the speaker is saying.

I find this frustrating. Part of taking a public speaking class is being a member of the listening audience. Part of being a member of the listening audience is to pay attention to what is being said. I know that my exchange students do listen to the speeches; they do try. Still, it is frustrating because they are not getting the full benefit of the class.

Another problem I run into is, they do not fully understand my directions when it comes to assignments. They will ask me to explain it again which I gladly do. Usually I am explaining it after class to just a group of exchange students (again, no complaints). As I explain it, I will ask if they understand. They nod in agreement and smile at me and say ‘Yes,’ but I doubt that they understand what I am saying.

I give the exchange students a lot of credit. I could not take a class in another language nor could I teach in another language. Still, it is difficult to evaluate them fairly and it does pose additional challenges. I hope that they do get something out of my class.