So here’s the deal: When I tell people back home (especially other Canadian teachers) that I teach EFL in Japan, their immediate response is usually: “Ohhhhh. That must be so nice! I bet you your students are sOoOoOoOoOoOo well-behaved. You must not have any classroom management issues!”
OK, so they don’t say those words exactly, but they definitely imply them, and they certainly do see Japanese students as perfect little angels, who listen attentively, don’t misbehave, and understand quickly. They essentially see them as model students.
Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely students in Japan who are like that. And I can certainly say that the emphasis on doing well in school (especially middle and high school) is very high here. However, it would be wrong and completely inaccurate to assume that all of my students are easy to teach. They aren’t. Just like any other children, in any other part of the world, Japanese children misbehave in class sometimes. They sometimes talk while you do, they won’t sit still, they get bored and decide running around the room is a good idea… You get my drift.
That doesn’t mean that I think any less of them, or that I don’t try to revamp my lessons to avoid some of this misbehavior. On the contrary, I’m constantly assessing and reassessing what I do in order to create lessons that will best meet my students’ unique needs. I do my best and am constantly learning new tricks to keep myself (and my kids) sane!
But the bottom line here is: don’t expect your students to be perfect (or to be awful) just because they’re from a certain country. Thinking in that way will give you unrealistic expectations in the classroom, which can lead to a whole bunch of problems in the long run!