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Students seem speechless
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-02 22:20

Lu Feng, a teacher at the Nanjing Engineering Institute in the capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, has to answer most of the questions he raises to students in class.

"More and more university students are unwilling to answer questions in classes, and few of them can give both clear and logical answers," he complained.

Lu is teaching courses on automatic controls in the institute. Whenever raising a question, whether difficult or not, Lu finds there are almost no students volunteering answers.

"Waiting is meaningless and in vain. Instead,many times I have to call some students by name to answer my questions. I used the name list for the classes I am not familiar with," he said.

However, Lu is always upset about the answers given. Students apparently lack key points and reply irrelevant words due to little practice in answering questions, let alone actively raising questions or ideas. Usually, he has to answer his own questions or speak by adding details to what he has already said.

Not only Lu, but teachers in other universities, colleges and institutes are experiencing similar problems.

"I have talked with many of my colleagues and teachers in other universities," Lu said, "Most of them are worried about the same problem."

Some teachers say that most Chinese students apparently pay much more attention to reading and learning knowledge by heart than participating in the practice of oral expression.

There are different kinds of examinations both inside and outside the campus but most of them are written examinations, said one of Lu's colleagues.

So one cannot imagine any incentive for orally answering questions, he said.

Due to the prevailing educational methods in schools, the ability of oral expression of Chinese students is weak.

However, many university students still think it is a psychological or personal matter whether one wants or does not want to answer questions during classes.

"I will not answer questions even if I know the answer," said Zhang Zang, a sophomore in Nanjing Radio and TV University. "That's because I am afraid that my answer is wrong. I know the teacher will give the answer or some active students will reply"

"I do not like to answer the teachers' questions since I do not want to be in the limelight, and many of my classmates have the same feeling," said Gu Yuming, a junior student in Nanjing Finance and Economics University.

According to Mao Rong, a professor with the department of Educational Science and Management in Nanjing University, the ability of university students to orally express ideas is mainly formed when they are in primary schools and middle schools.

During his research, he found that primary school students are most active in answering questions and get many chances to enhance their oral expression ability.

Mao said he would like to try hard to work out teaching methods to foster students' oral expression. Many university teachers take lecturing as the principal thing and seldom communicate with students, which causes the phenomenon.

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