Increase your Student Talking Time (STT)


As teachers, it is important to find a balance between the amount of time we talk and the amount of time our students talk. Our students are the ones who need to practice English not us! Of course we know this, but it can be easy to slip into lecture mode, especially if your students have a lot of questions.  Here are a few tips compiled by fellow SIT teacher trainer Sergio Acevedo to help us make sure our students have as many opportunities to talk and interact as possible.

  • Students talking time should be around 75 percent of the class. Plan your classes taking this into consideration.   A class which is not previously planned is likely to have an excessive amount of teacher talking time.
  • Have your students do plenty of pair and group work.  Monitor students performance by discreetly circulating among them while they are working, and assisting them when necessary. Guide and assist their work; don’t participate in their conversations. Also make sure to pair students up in a way that allows stronger students to help weaker ones.
  • Use body language whenever possible. If you don’t need to speak, don’t. Develop a set of gestures that your students are familiar with to give common instructions.
  • Avoid unnecessary echoing. In other words,  the repetition of what a student has just said. However, repeating a student’s words to identify an error is, of course, helpful and necessary.
  • Make sure you are giving clear instructions for your activities. For example,  have students read the instructions for textbook activities and model the examples if any, instead of you. Always model for your students before you let them work independently for a non-textbook activity. Also, when giving instructions, provide your students with enough support language when they engage in discussions, role plays, pair checks, or even basic text-book activities.
  • When dealing with dialogues have all the students work at once instead of calling single pairs to perform them while everybody else is passively listening. As a general rule, limit the amount of time spent doing activities as a whole class or alone and increase the amount of time students can work with each other.
  • Explain grammar through meaningful examples rather than explicitly.  Keep in mind that we are teaching communication, not linguistics. Also consider ways to elicit the main points of the topic you are teaching instead of only telling or explaining. Inductive teaching can not only increase your STT, but also help  the students  forge stronger relationships between the target language and using the target language.
  • Lead students to become in charge of their own learning; remember that we are just facilitators. Let your students be teachers once in a while.  We can also learn from them.
  • Resist the temptation of interrupting them while they are talking. Keeping this in mind will also help you avoid over correction.
Students talking, teacher monitoring!

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