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Decreasing Teacher Talking Time and Its Effect in the Classroom

Decreasing Teacher Talking Time and Its Effect in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

One of the most difficult aspects of English teaching is not grammar or even structure; it’s the externalization of ideas through the act of speaking with the teacher or students. The thought seems trivial but when put in an environment where the language taught overrides their own most students have a hard time organizing their ideas and thoughts to form coherent sentences that expresses what is on their minds.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Alvin M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


Most students struggle with the idea since it requires both an understanding of the English lexicon and the pronunciation required to communicate effectively. Most students that take classes to be it individually or in groups don’t have the chance of developing these skills outside of the classroom be it a lack of time, motivation or tools necessary to do so.

One of the biggest challenges is how to balance teacher talking time to student talking time since, as mentioned above, students must be able to practice the vocabulary learned in order to join it with his or her ideas and thus have a greater mastery over the spoken language. On the other hand, the teacher is a required presence in the classroom since he or she guides students and is, therefore, necessary to relay instructions, teaching points among other matters that need his or her attention.

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Ways to work on it

There are a variety of ways to reduce teacher talking time in the classroom while providing students the much-needed practice to develop the class speaking skills.


Choral repetition is an effective way to reduce teacher talking time since it involves the whole classroom as opposed to only the teacher being the one speaking. The teacher can go the extra mile and ask pre-made questions or “prompts” where the answer is the most obvious example and thus involving the students further. When teaching new vocabulary or grammatical structures choral repetition of pre-made examples can also be a useful way to interact with the class without intruding into their speaking time.


Guided activities are a great way to increase student speaking time since it typically involves two or more students interacting with each other while providing a meaningful interaction about the lesson being taught. Examples of guided activities include model dialogues, where the students act out a specific example or situation or the more common guided role-plays where the students act out two or more roles provided by the teacher.

Depending on the level of the student the teacher can encourage other activities such as debates, discussions, communication games among many others to further encourage communication in class and with each other, and as always increasing student speaking time in the classroom. It should be noted that for most of these activities the teacher should provide some kind of feedback so that the students know what areas should be worked on in the future.

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Other ideas

The teacher doesn’t always have to wait for these specific moments to happen to be able to foment speaking in class, it can also be done at the very beginning by the use of ice breakers such as “twenty questions”, “hangman”, “charades” or even general discussion of everyday mundane subjects such as sports, weather or leisure activities before the start of the days lesson.

How to deal with reluctant students

It should also be mentioned that some students may feel reluctant to participate in class due to fear of making mistakes, lack of interest or cultural reasons among many others. The teacher should overcome these problems and encourage more interaction among both the teacher and the students involved in the lesson. This can be done by providing plenty of pair or group work, making speaking activities have meaning within the class to create a desire to communicate. All this, in turn, creates an atmosphere where the students are encouraged to communicate more openly with each other.

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In conclusion, there should be a balance between both the teachers and students speaking time in the class, with the focus being on the teacher trying to reduce his speaking time as much as possible. This, in turn, allows students to develop their speaking skills while at the same time fomenting an atmosphere that encourages communication which develops their speaking skills even further.

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