Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 10 October 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.



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More Than Meets the Eye
Reasons Behind Asian Students' Perceived Passivity
in the ESL/EFL Classroom

Biswas Debasish, M.A. (English Lit.), M.A. (Applied Lang. Studies)


This paper investigates several common alleged stereotypes related to the Asian learners in terms of reticence and passivity in the classroom and it reviews the factors offered as explanations for the perceived reticence and passivity. In addition to acknowledging the part culture plays in this behavioral profile, we have argued that factors other than culture i.e., students related and teacher issues play no less a role in the way Asian students interact in the ESL/EFL classroom. Finally, this paper summarizes some of the pedagogical implications of this stereotyping.

Keywords: passive, Stereotype, second language learning, reticence.


In recent ESL/EFL literature, Asian (especially East Asian) learners of English as a foreign/second language have been arguably reported as reticent and passive. The most common allegations are that these students are reluctant to participate in classroom discourse; they are unwilling to give responses; they do not ask questions, they are passive and over- dependent on the teacher (Braddock et al., 1995; Cortazzi & Jin 1996; Jones et al 1993; Tsui, 1996).

While some researchers (e.g., Cortazzi & Jin, 1996; Littlewood & Liu, 1996,) have challenged these allegations, more interested researchers have chosen to explore the factors behind such alleged behavior of the Asian students. By resorting to socio -cultural interpretations of the Asian societies, many researchers (e.g., Flowerdew & Miller, 1995; Ferris & Tagg, 1996; Turner & Hiraga, 1996) generalized that these shortcomings on the part of the Asian students result from certain cultural attributes of Asian societies. It is perhaps relatively easier to establish whether or not Asian students are reticent and passive learners than to explain why some Asian learners have indeed been observed to be quieter than desired.

In this paper, I will review the reasons offered as responsible for this behavioral profile of the Asian students and I will report the findings of existing studies as evidence against the alleged behavior to support my argument that the reasons attributed for the passivity of the Asian students goes beyond the cultural interpretations. In fact, factors that are commonly held responsible may be deeper and more diverse than meets the eye. I will argue that a number of issues related to both teachers and students have a lot to do in the circumstances where behavior of reticence and passivity is indeed observed. Finally, I will summarize the implications this stereotyping might have on teaching learning as a whole.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

English Loanwords in Meiteiron A Linguistic and Sociolinguistic Analysis | A Report on the State of Urdu Literacy in India, 2010 | More Than Meets the Eye Reasons Behind Asian Students' Perceived Passivity in the ESL/EFL Classroom | English for Medical Students of Hodeidah University, Yemen - A Pre-sessional Course | Education as an Indicator for Human Resource Development | Representation of Malaysian Women in Politics | A Modern Approach to Application of Abbreviation and Acronym Strategy for Vocabulary Learning in Second/Foreign Language Learning Procedure | Causes of Social Acceptance of "O" and "A" Level Education System in Pakistan | Pronounce Foreign Words the English way! | Dubhashi and the Colonial Port in Madras Presidency | An Investigation of Davis' Translation of SHAHNAMEH - Rostam and Sohrab Story in Focus | Feminine, Female and Feminist - A Critical Spectrum on Selected Novels by Kamala Markandaya, Shahsi Deshpande and Arundhati Roy | Four-letter Words and the Urdu Learner's Dictionaries in Pakistan | Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin - A Study of the Impact of War on Historical and Economic Aspects of the Society | Was Gandhi a True Mahatma? | Omani Women
Are Their Language Skills Good Enough for the Workplace?
| Spread of English Globalisation Threatens English Language Teaching (ELT) in Pakistan | Multiple Intelligences, Blended Learning and the English Teacher | A Micro-Case Study of Vocabulary Acquisition among First Year Engineering Students | Imagery of Wilderness in Margaret Hollingsworth's Islands | The Influence of Learning Environment on Learners' Attitude in a Foreign Language Setting | Caste - Gender Ideology in Gundert's Malayalam-English Dictionary | Development of a Hindi to Punjabi Machine Translation System - A Doctoral Dissertation | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF OCTOBER, 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT. | HOME PAGE of October 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Biswas Debasish, M.A. (English Literature), M..A (Applied Language Studies)
Department of English
American International University
House-23, Rd-17, Kemal Ataturk Avenue, Banani, Dhaka-1213

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