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Federico Riva

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Top Tips for Reducing Teacher Talking Time

Top Tips for Reducing Teacher Talking Time | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When I had completed approximately thirty percent of the TEFL course I decided to go to a local school here in the North East of Thailand, where I live, and my friend, who is a Canadian national, is the English teacher at that particular school. I had already arranged with him, that I would take his English lesson acting as a visiting English trainee teacher, and he would assess me. I gave a lesson to the students in the English language sentence structure.

On completion of the lesson I approached my friend and asked his assessment of my teaching abilities, and he replied that I taught to a satisfactory standard apart from the fact that, I was a little bit nervous and the students didn’t speak much at all. Although they did a lot of writing and listening, I did all the speaking. On this advice, I decided to do a bit of research on how to reduce the time that I speak and increase the student speaking and interacting. I arranged to teach another lesson shortly after I had done some research, and my friend agreed that he would assess me again during the next lesson.

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

Understand Your Classroom

I recollected the layout of the classroom, and how the students were seated in four rows of four and how I stood at the front of the classroom with sixteen pairs of eyes staring at me. This was not the ideal seating configuration, as all the students' attention was directed at me. So my first solution to the problem would be to split the class into groups of four and have them facing each other, then I could wander around the classroom and all the focus would not be on me. It would also be easier to set up pairs or group tasks, where students could communicate and carry out the tasks together, with the stipulation that the preferred spoken language would be English.

students hands

Also Read: How do online TEFL courses work?

System of Signs

Introducing the students to certain signals or actions that you carry out for repetitive tasks can be helpful. For example, a tap on the board can indicate to pay attention as you will not repeat, or hand signals are also a good way of reducing the teacher talk time. Also effective are facial expressions (the teacher stare), when a student misbehaves, instead of wasting time by punishing with speech.

Also Read: How to find a job teaching English in France?

Why Encouraging to Speak?

Getting the students to talk is vital, not only for reducing teacher talk time but also for increasing student use of English in verbal and pronunciation practice. Therefore it is essential to pose questions either to individuals, pairs or groups in the classroom. They should not be able to answer the questions with simply one word. Never ask the question “Do you understand?”, as this will invariably be answered “yes”, to stop loss of face, especially here in Asia. Instead, ask the students to explain in their own words what you have just described. Or have the students repeat back to you what you have said. This habit will get them to practice speaking English. Asking a pair or group of students to reflect on the activity and on why they chose that particular item or subject, giving reasons as well, is a way to generate a useful discussion between the students, and it gives the teacher some free time, thus reducing talk time.

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All this research that I accomplished was with the one aim in mind that the next time I go to the class to teach, I will achieve the reduction of my talking time to less than fifty percent of the actual time when students and I interact. The students will then be talking a lot more.

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