Will Encouraging Words Become Discouraging Sometimes?
(My blog entry dated May 6, 2007)

Yesterday I met my students for the 1st time. Yes, I am going to teach some new immigrant students at a centre of Social Welfare Department at Fortress Hill. There are 7 students who have arrived in HK within these two years. Interestingly, 6 of them are from the same class of the same school. Although most of them said they don't like English because it is difficult, they are really motivated. I can see that when they worked attentively on every piece of work I assigned to them and responded productively afterwards. I was delighted to find that one girl said she wants to study English in uni. She speaks the best English amongst them.

One boy worried me a bit because he's been in HK for 2 months only and he's in F.1. So, his level of English is far below that of the rest of the group. Really have to think of some ways to help him.

Though they are motivated, they aren't very confident in themselves. Amongst the expectations they wrote down, I can hear: 能勉強與外國人溝通 能勉強聽懂英語電影 Why do they just aim for 勉強? And some of them were quite reserved when trying to speak in class. I tried to encourage them from time to time. And I told them they are better than some people who were born in HK and have been studying here since kindergarten. I also said, "Don't think you can't do well cos you've just been to HK for one or two years." I did say it from the bottom of my heart and it is the fact: In terms of proficiency, they are better than some HK students. And in terms of attitude, they are better than most HK students probably including myself. After the lesson, I recalled the encouraging words I said and found it a bit problematic: Why did I stress that they are better than HK people? Was I implying that they are supposed to be weaker?

From time to time, people talk to me like this: you do better than many of your sighted pers. You are really smart! I don't feel very good whenever I hear that. Will the students have such a feeling too? Will encouraging words become discouraging sometime?