February 4, 2011
2/2/2011 – #ELTchat – Effective ways to minimize TTT (Teacher Talking Time) and maximize STT (Student Talking Time)
“It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them.”
Dame Rose Macaulay
“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”
“There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you’re busy interrupting.”
Last week we talked about the ways to promote learners’ autonomy and this week it was about TTT/STT in classroom. In many ways these two topics are related. What is the role of the teacher in the classroom? Who is/should be the centre of attention during the lesson?
One of the ELT methods, which restricted the amount of TTT in teaching/learning process, was Silent Way. The teacher should be silent as often as possible and students should be able to use the language for self-expression and become independent by relying on themselves (not teachers).
Later on, it was discussed that the optimal TTT/STT ratio is 30%/70%.
But, is TTT really that bad in the classroom?
Isn’t the overall classroom dynamics, sharing information and experience more important?
Why are some teachers talking too much?
• Fear of silence (music could help in that case)
• Some teachers are “talking at the students” not communicating with them
• Sometimes we forget to give the thinking time to our students
• Too long or complicated instructions/explanations…
• Not enough experience with teaching or lack of confidence
When is TTT good/effective?
• Language model (in case your students don’t have access to English except you)
• Listening activity (authentic), story telling
• In project/task-based classes – teacher as a model
• TTT used with a purpose (meaningful talking)
• Let your talk be genuine – you are a person not only teacher
• Keep it relevant and to the point
• Be spontaneous/flexible
How can we improve the quality of STT?
• Provide safe speaking situations (and relaxed atmosphere)
• Pair/group speaking tasks (group of three is great solution for shier students who can listen to the others in group and participate when they feel they want)
• Pyramid discussion
• Body language of a teacher (move in the classroom, your position in the class, help and encourage students, lower yourself when listening to students speaking, smile )
• Encourage shy students – a lot of scaffolding, small steps
• Encourage your students to speak also outside the classroom – use voice recording for example
• Get your students move in the classroom from time to time (more natural for speaking than sitting and talking to a person on the left/right)
• Make sure the students understand the language they are supposed to use and know what to do
• Try to avoid boredom and confusion over task
• Show interest in what your students say
• Let them speak from a personal point of view rather than course book
• Pretend you have lost your voice, write a topic on board, let them talk about it, write a vocabulary and self-correct themselves
• Authentic small talk
• Give yourself and your students 5 minutes of repeating what they learned
• Ask few students to monitor the speaking activity of others and then give feedback
• Have your students make quick personal posters (A4) and then present them in pairs/groups/circles
• Use role plays, improvisations
• “find someone who” kind of activities
• Keep in mind that activities need to be set up so all the students (strong as well as weak) are encouraged to speak
• Arrange class party
• Students pecha kucha in pairs
• Be the same person in/out of the classroom
• Information gap activities
• Board games
• Use provoking news, headlines, quotes to get them express their opinion (sth they want to speak about)
• “each student has 6 beans, they give back a bean once they contribute to conversation”
• Password game: write vocabulary vertically down index card. 2nd card covers all but 1st word. Teacher shows a student word, student gives clues so other students can guess
AND A GREAT SUM BY CHUCK SANDY: “In sum: Be balanced. Use TTT judiciously. Make it effective. Be real. Engage SS w/meaningful work.Step back.Let learning happen.”