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What excercises might work best with Hong Kong/Chinese Students


I have to do a 20 hour marketing communications course over 4 days, in Hong Kong to a group of English speaking Hong Kong and Chinese nationals. I've learnt (thanks also to some kind contributors on this site) that they are not likely to be comfortable speaking out and interacting in the class as individuals. So as I now put the course together I am trying to come up with ways to make it interactive. These students will be in full time employment, doing the course in the evening and weekends, tired  and just listening to  20 hours of me droning on would be torture!

In Europe as well as seeking constant individual comments from a class,  I would normally do a lot of informal group exercises in class for approx 10mins and get teams  to nominate a spokesperson to report back to the class.  I would also sometimes get teams to present more formally to the room on a topic I would have set them.   Does anyone have a view on weather these students might be uncomfortable speaking out about the work a team had done?  Do they enjoy or not presenting as a team to an entire class? Am I better to set team exercises and then work the room myself getting them to report/discuss their work with me, rather than the entire class?

Any tips for making it more interesting  and interactive would be very welcome!


2 Responses

  1. Hong Kong / Chinese students


    Whilst there are some common habits, it is worth pointing out that there are also plenty of folk who buck the cultural stereotype and I’m not sure I said that last time. I’d certainly say that sometimes they may be reluctant to initiate a contribution in a formal setting but I think two main thins can help. Firstly, if you create the right atmosphere – professional but informal, friendly and welcoming of contributions – that helps. The other thing is to give specific permission / instructions around contributing to get things underway. My experience is that people are not so much uncomfortable about speaking in the group – or at least no more so than here – but you do need to do a bit more to get them started. Your idea of a report back spokesperson is a good one. You could even ask for three ideas from each group, each idea being reported by a different person. Just be precise in what you are asking and then acknowledge and thank the contributors.

    Other options that I found worked was 2 mins in pairs to identify an example of X and then go around and get several examples from around the room. Pairs is a nice gentle introduction and everyone gets to speak to someone. A few always speak out to the group and some are quieter, but that is fine.

    I have also found that movement helps (especially if they are tired at the end of the day). Identify one side of the room as +ve and the other as -ve then asked them to come and stand somewhere on a line between the two to represent how +ve / -ve they feel about idea X, or about how well it might work in their organisation. Then get invite a contribution from the -ve end of the line, the middle and finally the +ve. Or get them to write comments on post its and post them on labelled flipchart. Then walk around the flipcharts discussing what has been posted.

    Hope that helps


  2. Training Chinese students – not so different

    My experience of trainig in mainland china was quite positive, and not so tricky as I had been led to believe. However I did change the way I invited interaction: I put people in groups, and adjusted most sessions so there was a question for (1) individual contemplation, followed by (2) group discussion, and finally/optional (3) report back to the room – this gave people the chance to discuss comfortably, and then to nominate one person to speak for them. I also find that people appreciated being required to speak, and to be challenged with questions from me (their body language didn’t always seem to give this impression, but people usually come up to me afterwards and thank me). I also handed out marked post-its which selected a speaker for each group (to avoid the same person speaking up each time). I also made more of an effort to give speakers praise (applause) than I would bother with in Europe as this built confidence in them and future spokesperson. After the first day I selectively addressed questions to individuals as the atmosphere had become more relaxed and people more willing to speak.

    I did find that (within mainland China) although their English was excellent, they had trouble with accents (I was training with someone who had a slight accent), and they appreciated slower presentations – the trick was to speak slowly enough without being patronising (I hope I balanced this!) – and they understood more than they felt comfortable speaking.

    Good luck!

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