Teaching “Asian” Kids – Diverse Learning
Teaching “Asian” kids is about as specific as saying I just ate “Asian” food – it’s pretty vague. There isn’t an “Asian” kid template that universally applies, just like there isn’t an “Asian” food template that universally applies.
Teachers coming from China are going to have very different experiences than those teaching in Korea. Even more is that the regions of each country are equally diverse. A more universally applicable way of talking about this is ‘how does the particular country approach child rearing?’
I’ve found that the way the society looks at children has a great impact on the students you will encounter.
For example, in Thailand the children are often placated and given liberties often reserved for adulthood. That being the case, Thai students can sometimes be too expressive with their disinterest in a lesson or wander off-topic.
Korea on the other hand expects their children to be obedient and studious. They are expected to be intelligent, do well in school and become hard working adults. The result is that many Korean students are well behaved and submissive. This may sound like a good thing, but it can be difficult for them to express their problems or participate in creative ways.
Pick any other country in Asia and you will find something similar. While there is no universally applicable “type,” there are some commonalities. I have had a lot of experience teaching both Thai and Korean students and this has held true.
I have also spent a great deal of time in workshops and social settings with ESL teachers from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Middle East. They all agree that the country’s social paradigm for child rearing plays an enormous role in student “types.”
Each student “type” poses certain obstacles. Each one also possesses some wonderful gems. Embrace the diversity and allow yourself to be immersed in the culture – once you get over the initial shock it’s a lot of fun!