Sunday, 21 October 2007

Asia-Europe communication

What a lazy blogger I have been since the beginning of this school year. Once back to the rat race of a Finnish high school year it seems that I get totally gulped by the never-ending exams, retakes, meetings and daily routines. Why can’t I seem to break out of it – even after 20 years’ experience?? Possibly because I never want to repeat, year after year, the same old stuff I have done before. I always want to try something new.

This school year I want to experiment with putting part of my classroom work online. I feel my students desperately need a genuine audience for their English work. Enough of the boring old essays only written to me for course credit! Luckily, we will have the unique chance to host a group of students and teachers from Singapore next March. I have set up a site on Wikispaces to share the planning of the visit. I thought this would be ideal as we are actually sharing the hosting with another Finnish school in another town. Important bits of information easily get lost if so many people keep emailing to and fro. To get my students involved, too, I am planning to have a group of students work on interesting and relevant background information about Finland, our school and our town for the wiki during one of my English courses. Finally a real project task with a purpose, a definite deadline and a chance to make use of the new technology in creative and imaginative ways. I hope! Can’t wait to see how students will react to this plan!

However, to foster some student collaboration and interaction I will still have to try to convince my Singaporean colleague that a wiki is a good idea. Actually, I am experiencing some baffling communication problems with this colleague. Anyone out there who could enlighten me why it seems that whenever I ask her any innocent enough question – she seems to totally evade answering???? I keep repeating the question – but still nothing but silence. I feel so stupid and helpless. So far I haven’t dared to touch this problem in my communication with her – I am too afraid that it will just lead to an even longer silence from her part (this has happened before with some other Asian colleagues when difficulties have arisen). I suspect this has something to do with our different communication patterns… But I am so clueless as to why this happens. What do I do wrong? How can you coordinate and plan a joint visit without asking any questions? Should I just go about it the way I see best without bothering her with my questions? I feel that the silence is an indication that there was something wrong with my question. Is it rude in Asia to ask questions? Should I somehow just guess what the answers might be and stop asking? I wish I understood… Am I generalising here, maybe this is to do with this particular teacher only and not 'Asians' in general as I am tempted to think?

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