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The unacceptable excuse..
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Posted 4/17/14
There is no hope for you, people who don't want to learn will never learn.
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Posted 4/17/14
I don't care.
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Posted 4/17/14

demongurrl13 wrote:

Being an ESL teacher, there is one thing that never fails to frustrate me: the use of "I don't understand" or "I don't know" as an excuse by my students to not have to the do any form of thinking or thought processing that I'm asking them to do.

And really, it's not just my ESL students who do this, even my brother and other people have done this before. Heck, my parents have done this before! I even remember being like this when I was much younger...

My question is, why do you think people use not knowing/understanding as an excuse to not do anything? Should it really be accepted as an excuse for people to act helpless?

The way I see it now, it should really never be an excuse. It should be a challenge. Instead of saying "I don't understand, I can't..." we should be saying "I don't understand, please explain it to me." If you don't know how something works, then instead of admitting that lack of knowledge as an excuse to not use it, you should instead just learn how it works.

I don't know.. Sometimes I think most people are just too lazy to think...


Lazy? Or so utterly lost that they don't even know what questions to ask? You're teaching ESL, there will be a language barrier, either the direct "I don't understand the words you are using" or "the words you are using aren't answering my question". Some will be lazy, some are frustrated that learning another language isn't easy, but they can't walk away for personal reasons (presure from society, family or work). Those ones may be hoping to fail utterly, so they can say "I tried. I really tried, but I can't get this, so I'm moving on."

The number of times I've gotten the frustration vibe from someone teaching me new things at work when I answer "I don't know" to a question is huge. I've managed to follow it up with detail on why I don't know, but these students may not want to say "I don't understand your lessons" for fear of insulting you. (which I'm not, either)

Or the could be lazy too, I'm not discounting that possiblity.
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36 / M / Denver
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Posted 4/17/14
As a teacher myself, people have no excuses. It's a well-honed principle.

That does not mean there isn't a way out, however. "I don't want to do this" would be an acceptable sentiment from your students demongurl. Since they aren't forced to be in your class, however, it begs the question - why are they there?
Posted 4/17/14 , edited 4/17/14
Well this is a big 'I don't understand why they do this'' post OP.

If they let you know that they don't understand, that's better than hiding this fact.
There is a huge gp between "I don't understand" and "I will therefore refuse to do it".
The middle part is the motivation or desire you can to fill in.
Perhaps you can make them understand before they utter the words like they are fed up of trying.
I've also seen plenty of people use "I can't" just to brush something aside and what they actually meant being "I can't be bothered" or "I don't see the point" or "I can do without it"
Posted 4/17/14

demongurrl13 wrote:

Unfortunately, my students are not being forced to come to school and learn English. I work for a non-profit school that offers free English classes to people in the community. I don't even force them to be in school because I know how I felt being forced to endure through college. The thing that frustrates me is that they came to us. We didn't hunt them down and force them to apply, they came willingly (supposedly) with the intention to learn English. And don't get me wrong, I love my students and I have quite a good group who are really dedicated and are showing progress, but there are always those who don't take it seriously and find each and every excuse they could get their hands on to hold themselves back. "Oh, I can't come to school because I need to go to the bank." or "I need to leave early because I need to send mail." or the one thing that somehow decreases my enthusiasm in teaching, "I don't know. I don't understand anything." Now, if everyone in the class was like this then I guess I'm just a bad teacher and I can't really blame them. However, I do have a bunch of students who ARE very much dedicated to learning an do the work and put in the practice time that I ask of them. The students who seem to not care about learning English are very disruptive and tend to distract the other students. They also lower the morale of the entire class because by them constantly giving up and refusing to put in effort, they are discouraging the others.

Maybe I'm not the best teacher, but I am passionate about what I do. I make it point to always be cheerful and enthusiastic, to find different ways to help them learn. I just wish that people would stop being their own barriers. I have patience, but there's only so much I can do to help if people constantly keep holding themselves back by being that voice in their head that's telling them they can't do it.


I just read this now; if they are doing it so often that they disrupt the class at the expense of other students then I can understand your frustration.

Don't show them your frustration, this can probably be picked up by other students and their intolerance would generate more demotivation and maybe even encourage the ones who say "don't understand so I can't" to have higher reliance on you. Positive energy is the key. Make a joke and tell them you'll get back to them when you feel like it.
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Posted 4/17/14 , edited 4/17/14
So if someone legitimately doesn't understand something your response is that they're not trying hard enough? English is hard to learn. As someone who's first language is English I can even see there are many things that are difficult to understand. Hell, a lot of adults who have English as their native language can't speak or write properly. From my experience, whenever a student would say they don't understand something they weren't saying 'don't understand, don't care' they were seriously looking for an explanation, despite not specifically asking for one.

Maybe I lucked out with how it worked in my school, because the second a student said they didn't understand something, the reply was along the lines of 'I'll come over and help you out' or just before we were set a task the teacher would ask 'now, is there anyone who still doesn't understand?' because they didn't automatically assume those who didn't get it were trying to sound rude. NOW, with that being said, there was trouble if something like homework was set, say, a week in advance, and the excuse for not doing it was 'I didn't get it' since they technically had a week to find the teacher and seek help.

Also if they flat out refuse to learn something then, again, they probably shouldn't be there, but don't assume because someone says they don't understand something they're trying to purposely sound rude. There's a lot I didn't understand in Science, and as such I asked for help a lot and in the end I passed, because I got answers. I never once said 'I don't understand, could you explain again?'. 'I don't really get it' or 'I'm stuck' and other replies similar to that were enough to get me the help I needed. I'm not saying they're all determined to work hard, just that those who do simply say 'I don't get it' probably don't know any better, and I never knew not giving an elongated explanation as to what I required in terms of help was frustrating to anyone until I read your post.

Or maybe I've just completely misinterpreted everything and spoken a load of shit, that could also be a possibility, I suppose (In which case I jump back to how difficult English can be to understand, and how hard it can be to convey a message in a way that everyone clearly understands what you're on about). I do, after all, find it difficult to believe that anyone would be that picky about how someone asks for help, especially when your occupation is that of a teacher.
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Posted 4/17/14

GayAsianBoy wrote:


As for adult students, it's to do with embarrassment and shyness. Most people are like that. They won't ask questions in lectures, they wait for everyone to leave, and then ask the questions later.



This is why I like college, or at least most college courses I have taken. The teachers rarely ask questions of the class like in Math the teacher won't be like: "OK so... YOU, come up to the board and answer this." Usually it works out that most teachers, again with my courses I have taken, realize that the students either know their stuff, or if they do need help will ask questions themselves during class, after class, or during office hours.
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24 / M / Iowa >.>
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Posted 4/17/14
I had a guy call in to work saying he couldn't make it in because of girlfriend issues
Posted 4/17/14
Ok, I'm getting a feeling that you people are just assuming that my students tell me they don't understand something and I'm all of a sudden raging or assuming they're lazy and stupid. Lol..

Here's a typical scenario:

We're doing a class discussion and I'm going around asking students questions. Some people are doing well, giving me answers the best they can.. (I do allow them to speak Spanglish as a last resort, but I encourage them to use as many English words as they possibly can to express themselves. I'm not too strict on grammar with speech because I just want them to get the hang of using English words freely for now. I try to focus more on their pronunciation because in my opinion that's what's important when it comes to speaking another language.) But every once in a while I'll get to someone and ask them a question and they'll just throw up their hands in the air and say they don't know, or shrug and act as if I never called on them. This leads the other students to try and translate for them or explain to them and encourage them. I also try to keep encouraging them and asking them what's not clear, but when they just shut down and refuse to participate, it just kind of brings down the mood of the entire discussion. I mean, if you're in an English class, I expect you to try and speak in English. It's not easy I know, but you need to put in the effort. To just sit there and tell yourself and everyone that you can't do it because you understand nada is not helping anyone at all.

When it comes to worksheets and other activities like that, I'm always answering questions and walking around to check on their work. Some of them usually just wait until a student has finished and they try to get them to help them by giving them the answers. When I leave them with worksheets, I allow them to work with each other granted that they are not just copying answers but are helping each other understand the activity.

I really wouldn't be as frustrated as I am if only they were asking me questions. I LOVE explaining things. What really frustrates me is the absence of those questions. Especially when some students keep saying they don't know what's going on or understand the lessons being taught. I don't know how much more help I can offer besides giving them my personal number so they can reach me when they have questions about their homework or anything they might need help with. I even once helped a student install free antivirus on her computer via text messages. I also stay an hour after class in case anyone needs to stay to ask questions or get extra help. I recently tutored a student of mine for 2 days after class to prepare her for her placement test to a community college. I mean, I give them the resources... I extend a helping hand.. I try to go above and beyond what is being required of me, but when they're not taking advantage of any of that, I really can't help but wonder why the heck they're in my class.
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Posted 4/17/14
sometimes you just really don't know or understand like me in every math class i was ever in

obviously people sometimes just ask dumb questions they could have thought the answers of themselves. Yes, despite what teachers say, there ARE dumb questions.
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Posted 4/17/14

unravelsslowly wrote:
Teaching is such a difficult and honorable occupation and SHOULD be the highest paid.


Why should teaching be the highest-paid?
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Posted 4/17/14

isisprince wrote:


unravelsslowly wrote:
Teaching is such a difficult and honorable occupation and SHOULD be the highest paid.


Why should teaching be the highest-paid?
Why should your dentist be properly taught how to do their job?
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Posted 4/17/14

FlyinDumpling wrote:


isisprince wrote:


unravelsslowly wrote:
Teaching is such a difficult and honorable occupation and SHOULD be the highest paid.


Why should teaching be the highest-paid?
Why should your dentist be properly taught how to do their job?


Indeed. You make a strong case for paying dentists more.
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Posted 4/17/14

isisprince wrote:

Indeed. You make a strong case for paying dentists more.
/facepalm

who do you think taught that dentist how to be a dentist? a teacher. You can't be a dentist just from reading textbooks
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