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Wednesday 29-Apr-2015
Put your hand up!

Sometimes, you need to let go of your shyness in order to make progress in life. It is simply not acceptable to go home after school with questions left unanswered and doubts in your mind. Your teachers are there to help you …

This article will outline my experience with overcoming my fear of embarrassment and failure in class, as well as suggesting reasons why students may be hesitant to ask questions. The benefits of asking and answering questions will also be covered. Teachers may not be the fount of all knowledge, but they do have the know-how to set you on the right track.

Why asking questions in class IS the way to go

It must have been at around two pm on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at a school in eastern England when I decided that I would try to overcome my fear of embarrassing myself in the eyes of my teachers and classmates. I was not entirely sure about a complex mathematical concept, and it had been playing on my mind for weeks. There was a perfect pause to speak up and question the teacher. The reason that this moment stands out in my mind is because I had always been a fairly unassuming student who worked hard, but was very restrained in expression. I still feel to this day that this question was a huge turning point in my life as I thereafter had the confidence to ask and answer many more questions and speak my mind.

Why may students be hesitant to ask questions? Firstly, there may be a fear of embarrassment, in the eyes of teachers and peers. However, it is important to put things into perspective. Will asking a question be the most embarrassing incident in your life? I suspect not. Moreover, fellow classmates will do nothing more than admire your bravery and will to improve yourself. At least, this is what I encountered after the “golden question” which I put to my maths teacher. Another reason for not seeking clarification may be introversion. However, shyness only serves to be a convenient excuse to not ask questions. Students may think to themselves: “I can’t speak up, I’m too shy”. I have met and witnessed plenty of pupils who have been able to overcome any perceived shyness to move forward at school.

Aside from soaring levels of confidence, there are many other benefits associated with asking questions. Firstly, concepts and material may suddenly becoming more engaging. The maths concept which I was not sure about was very theoretical, and not one in which students read about with pleasure in their spare time. However, my enhanced understanding did enable me to relate with, and become more intrigued in, the topic.

It was not my sole intention, but speaking up certainly brought with it more respect from teachers and peers. We sometimes need to look at the potential positive outcomes of “scary” situations.


Samuel Chan 

Source: The Standard 
Tuesday, April 29, 2015
Samuel is the founder of Britannia StudyLink.

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With an entrepreneurial spirit spreading across online, print and broadcast media, Samuel is an award-winning educational consultant and celebrated columnist. As a leader in the field of education, he was honoured with the British Council’s Study UK Alumni Award and his most prestigious achievement to date includes the founding of Hong Kong’s premier educational brands - Britannia StudyLink, Anglo Belgravia and Ascent Prep. 

Mabel Chan is the Principal Consultant of Britannia. Having studied in both the UK and the US, she is an expert in school matching for overseas education. She writes education columns for Sing Tao Daily and The Standard, and answers questions arising from parents and students patiently.


MB Cheung, our senior consultant, has been writing education columns for major local newspapers for more than 25 years. With his experience and unique insights, he shares a variety of tips and advice on overseas education for the readers (and DSE students)

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