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How to Decrease Teacher Talking Time

How to Decrease Teacher Talking Time | ITTT | TEFL Blog

TTT stands for Teacher Talking Time, ’of which teachers can't have too little. Teachers will speak more in class, when present knowledge, manage the classroom, correct students’ mistakes, praise students or provide feedback, and set up or demonstrate the classroom activities.

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


Here are some inadequacies of too much TTT. Firstly, TTT is opposite to STT (Student Talking Time), and more TTT means less STT. Teachers are already proficient in using English. Jeremy Harmer[1] believes that: Getting students to speak- to use the language they are learning- is a vital part of a teacher’s job. Students are the ones who need practice, in other words, not the teacher. Therefore, a good teacher maximizes STT and minimizes TTT.

Secondly, TTT can be over-used in managing the classroom, talking about things unrelated to target languages, such as social events and personal hobbies.

Thirdly, during teacher talking time, students will easily lose their interest, for just listening instead of talking. It also reduces the amount of time available for students to speak and actively participate in the class. Furthermore, TTT is usually used to explain the target language. When teachers speak, you may hardly hear the students say anything. It is difficult for teachers to know whether the students understand it or not.

students raising hands

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Ways to Solve the Problem

It has proven by many types of research that the most effective way for students to learn is to participate in the classroom. To ensure students being taught effectively and efficiently, teachers should minimize their speaking time, and create more opportunities for students to communicate in the classroom using the target language. How to decrease teacher speaking time? We can avoid unnecessary TTT as follows : * Choose a simple language for explanations and instructions. Grading language is very important to avoid unnecessary further explanations, so try to use language that is at or below the level being taught. * Use gestures, mimes, pictures or authentic materials such as books, maps, newspapers, audio and video recordings. You will see different learning types of students in a large class: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Auditory learners like to hear directions aloud, discuss what they are learning, and use word games, puzzles, riddles, and songs. Auditory learners learn through listening to spoken lessons and discussing information [2]. Meanwhile, visual learners prefer to learn through graphs, videos, pictures, and graphical representations instead of. Kinesthetic learners prefer to study and learn using physical practice.[3] They enjoy moving around, tracing, acting out concepts and stories. Based on different learning types, diversified teaching activities and materials can help students easily understand and learn far more than the linguistic codes. * Guide students to find the answer by themselves. Teachers should encourage students to answer questions without worrying about mistakes. If students can't answer the question, try to give some clues, rather than say and explain the answer immediately. It helps students understand the target language better. Meanwhile, instead of giving the only answer to some open questions, guiding methods can also help motivate divergent thinking and creativity. * Set up more group work and interactive activities. When learning in a group, discussing and debating become possible, which usually develop a perfect environment to develop critical thinking skills, and where many problems can even be solved unconsciously. While feedback is needed, try to let students provide feedback to each other.

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Decreasing teacher speaking time doesn’t mean blindly reducing teacher talking time. Teachers should bear in mind that we aim to improve the quality of teaching.

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