Students’ oral involvement in the Chinese university classroom: A comparison between classes of Chinese and international students

2017 IJRSE – Volume 6 Issue 1


Malik, Muhammad Abid
Beijing Normal University, China (

Sang, Guoyuan*
Beijing Normal University, China (


The current research investigates the notion that Chinese students are orally less involved in the classroom as compared to international students. Most of the previous research on this topic focuses on the Chinese students in English language classes or those studying in other countries where the language barrier and foreign culture might influence such behaviour. Using observations, this research compares two Chinese and two international classes in a Chinese university to investigate this issue. The classes were taught by the same teachers, but separately in Chinese and English language therefore eliminating the issue of language barrier and unfamiliar environment. The observations continued for around two months. The findings showed that the Chinese students spoke considerably less as compared to the international students even when taught in their native language and culture. The pattern of interaction in the classroom was also starkly different. Unlike the international students, the Chinese students generally spoke only when asked a question. It was the teacher who controlled the interaction in the classroom. Unlike the international students who were willing to challenge the teachers in the classes, the Chinese students never challenged them during the observations. The teachers also seemed to be more interactive in the international classes.

Keywords: interaction; oral involvement; teacher-centered; students-centered; Chinese students; culture



*Corresponding Author