The Best Strategies for Reducing Teacher Talk Time
I guess we all have been there. Sitting in a classroom where the teacher never stops talking. How did it feel? Was it interesting and motivating or was it perhaps boring and discouraging? Did you have the feeling of having learned something when the lesson was over? Whereas getting students talking in the classroom has proved quite a challenge to many teachers, having them verbalize what they are thinking about is very important. Even when the learning has been handed over to the students, it is still very tempting to spend far too much time giving directions, repeating important information and instructions, and telling students how they did rather than asking them to reflect on their work.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Virpi D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Is it too bad to talk?
Most teachers are talkative. We think we need to be. In the end, we are expected to be in charge of the class and teaching, right? But, ask yourself, can we be in control of the learning process of our students as well? We have to admit that if we have no control over the quantity and quality of our talking, we will end up depriving our students of getting involved in their learning process and demotivate them.
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Benefits of TTT
As teachers, we should be able to maximize students’ opportunities to talk in class to help them develop their speaking skills in English. They must be given lots of chances to communicate, with as little teacher intervention as possible. Whenever a student can say something, the teacher must not intervene or interfere by talking. No one, neither the teacher nor any student, should monopolize talking time in class. It is important to let our students know that their contributions are valuable and welcome. We need to give them the feeling of being in charge of their learning by having them share the job with us.
Reasons to reduce TTT
The goal of reducing teacher talking time can be reached by creating as many opportunities as possible for students where roles are switched. They need not only to be present physically, but their minds are to be active as well. Students need to become active, talkative, cooperative, and inventive while the teacher can pull back and observe, listen and elicit more speaking. It is needed to share the board with them and encourage them to talk in front of, and with their peers. It is important to create a supportive, encouraging atmosphere where the students feel comfortable and safe.
Also, the teacher should move away from the front of the classroom and take a seat among their students or stand at the back. Students need to have a chance to perform. We should not unnecessarily intervene or interfere, but allow them to interact with each other, share their ideas and personal experiences and let them make decisions. They need enough time to prepare and to think. The teacher should never be tempted to answer their questions.
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Approach to TTT reduction
Some effective ways of reducing teacher talking time and boosting students’ involvement at the same time are, for example, letting the students re-explain the lesson to each other, letting them paraphrase ideas and instructions, summarize previous lessons at the beginning of class and ask follow-up questions, letting them do the conclusion, encouraging them to bring materials to the classroom, to provide feedback to each other and to report something to the class. Letting them reflect on their performance will enhance their learning and help them to improve their language skills.
We need to plan for those moments where students can do things instead of the teacher, where we give them the chance to learn from their attempts and experiences and provide the necessary help if needed. Incorporating more group work into the lessons does wonders. Our students will learn from each other and enjoy the lessons more. However, we need to equip them with the necessary tools to express their ideas, such as language, materials, and so on. Also creating a healthy atmosphere to make mistakes and express themselves cannot be forgotten. Group work allows the teacher to go around the classroom listening to all of the students. So, the teacher can equally answer individual questions and provide more specific instructions to those who do not fully understand the material or task.
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Most importantly, supporting the students to initiate more talk by providing positive feedback that boosts their self-confidence and encouraging them to work out their weaknesses and to be able to improve should be one of the key duties of any teacher. Remember that our talk needs to be both effective and efficient. We have to think wisely about what we are doing and saying in class. For this purpose, reflect frequently on your talk as it is essential to make it more refined.
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