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Volume 1 Number 1, Spring 2004, Pages 1-403   

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Little Voice : Students' Confidence and Their Responses in English Lessons

    Jimmy Tong

In this paper, I shall discuss how students' confidence is reflected in their verbal and non-verbal responses to teachers' questions and in their classroom behaviour. The discussion will be based on qualitative data gathered in several junior secondary classes in Hong Kong that had participated in a three-year case study. The findings indicate that students' confidence (influenced by limited English proficiency and the type of questions asked) affects their classroom responses, verbal or otherwise. To cope with teachers' questions as well as other activities in the English lessons, students develop a number of strategies, such as remaining silent, checking answers with peers and teachers, and speaking softly. The study suggests that it is important for teachers to develop ways to teach their students as individuals who possess a diverse range of confidence levels as well as language needs and abilities. The paper concludes by suggesting ways of enhancing students' confidence in English learning experience.