What Happens When Two Cultures Meet in the Classroom?

By Huang, Jinyan | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2009 | Go to article overview

What Happens When Two Cultures Meet in the Classroom?


Huang, Jinyan, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The paper investigated four Chinese graduate students' perceptions of the major differences between North American and Chinese classroom teaching styles. Major differences in the following five areas were identified: 1) the teacher's role, 2) the student's role, 3) the form of class organization, 4) the teacher's expectations, and 5) the student's expectations. It then explored these four Chinese graduate students' North American classroom learning reality. Finally, the paper examined how they adjusted their classroom learning strategies and approaches accordingly so that they could adapt to the North American classroom environment.

**********

During the past two decades there has been a significant growth in the number of non-native speakers (NNS) of English pursuing academic studies in North American universities. Statistics shows that students from the People's Republic of China are the largest single group, and approximately 80% of them are graduate students (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2002; Institute of International Education, 2001). Generally, they have completed their undergraduate education in China prior to commencing graduate studies in North American universities. Chinese graduate students are from a very different cultural background. Their learning experience in North American classrooms has important educational implications for both university administrators and educators (Huang & Klinger, 2006).

Academic learning, as argued by Tweed and Lehman (2002), varies depending on the cultural context. They proposed a Confucian-Socratic framework to analyze the influence of different cultural contexts on academic learning. Socrates (469-399 BC), a Western exemplar, valued the questioning of both his own and others' beliefs, the evaluation of others' knowledge, self-generated knowledge, and teaching by implanting doubt. Socratic-oriented learning involves "overt and private questioning, expression of personal hypotheses, and a desire for self-directed tasks" (p. 93). In contrast, Confucius (551-479 BC), an Eastern exemplar, valued effortful and respectful learning, behavioral reform, and pragmatic acquisition of essential knowledge (Tweed & Lehman, 2002). Confucian-oriented learning involves "effort-focused conceptions of learning, pragmatic orientations to learning, and acceptance of behavioral reform as an academic goal" (p. 93).

Confucian philosophy has a strong impact on Chinese people's viewpoints, ways of thinking and behaviors. Confucius stressed the importance of hard work. He believed that success was mainly due to hard work rather than ability. He also believed that "behavior reform is a central goal of education because virtuous behavior can ensure individual success and societal harmony" (Tweed & Lehman, 2002, p. 92). Confucius valued pragmatic learning. He viewed the goal of learning as to competently conduct oneself within a civil service job. He stressed the acquisition of essential knowledge and respectful learning. He taught his students to respect and obey authorities. He once said that "to honor those higher than ourselves is the highest expression of the sense of justice" (Confucius, 1947, p.332).

When Chinese graduate students come to study in North American classrooms, many bring a Confucian-oriented perspective to their learning, while their North American professors and peers may have a more Socratic orientation. Since they have little exposure to Western classroom cultures, they will feel unfamiliar and even uncomfortable with North American classroom culture (Huang & Klinger, 2006).

Research with NNS of English studying at North American universities in an English for academic purposes context has indicated that Chinese graduate students experience considerable challenges and anxiety in their academic studies (Huang, 2004, 2005; Huang & Klinger, 2006; Sun & Chen, 1997; Upton, 1989). They often feel uncomfortable with the students' behaviors at North American classrooms (Upton, 1989). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Happens When Two Cultures Meet in the Classroom?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.