Steve Paton


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Presentation Intercultural awareness can unlock communication more

Sat, Jul 10, 15:30-16:00 Asia/Tokyo

Classroom silence is a commonly-misunderstood aspect of English language teaching in Japan. Teachers who use communicative approaches can be frustrated and confused by students’ unwillingness to participate, respond, or communicate. Coming to recognize the deep-seated cultural origins of classroom silence can alleviate the confusion greatly (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010), but such an awareness raises questions about how to respond; do we adapt to student reticence, or is it in students’ best interests that teachers defy expectations and simply insist upon greater communicability and interactivity during classes? (Banks, 2016, Harumi, 2011) This presentation will describe a pre-emptive approach to classroom silence that has resulted in students coming to participate comfortably in direct teacher-student communication. By raising students’ consciousness to intercultural differences in expectations around communicability, and carefully casting reticence in a negative light, the presenter came to have confidence that his students would respond to his questions without the anxiety and reluctance so familiar in Japanese classrooms.

Steve Paton