Ice-breaking journey in Asian ELT contexts: Experienced teachers' strategies for facilitating interaction and communication in silent classrooms

Year: 2012

Author: Cheng, Chih-ling, Cheng, Ying-yao, Ho, Hsiao-Chi, Wang, Chia-Chi

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Classroom silence among Asian learners continues to attract discussions as it is considered as one of the major impediments to implementing communicative and learner-centered approaches in EFL classrooms. In order to raise awareness of 'context-based' ELT (English Language Teaching) and gain a thorough understanding of pedagogies activating silent Asian EFL classrooms, this study examines how experienced teachers' perceive students classroom silence and what teaching strategies they use to facilitate oral communication within the socially and culturally shaped teaching contexts. Participants of this study were three Taiwanese EFL instructors (non-native speakers of English) teaching at the tertiary level. All of them had more than 10 years of communication-oriented EFL teaching experiences and constantly received high scores on teaching performance evaluation rated by students. Qualitative procedures were utilized to analyze data collected through in-depth interviews with the participants, classroom observations and the researcher's reflections (as an experienced EFL teacher). Results revealed that experienced teachers generally held positive and adaptive views of their students' classroom silence. Strategies adopted by these experienced EFL teachers to cope with classroom silence and enhance more classroom interaction involved: (1) psychological/affective strategies; (2) linguistic support strategies; (3) meta-linguistic strategies; (4) questioning strategies; (5) grouping strategies; (6) evaluation strategies. The results also showed their strategies were implemented in accordance with the cultural and social norms with strong 'face-saving' and 'confrontation-avoidance' characteristics. The study discusses feasible and practical pedagogical approaches and provides suggestions for further studies.