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Optimizing Student Talking Time (STT) vs Teacher Talking Time (TTT)
admin - Oct 28 2018
What is TTT?
Teacher Talking Time – The amount of time a teacher uses to speak in class.
What is STT?
Student Talking Time – The amount of time a student uses to speak in class.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a way different ball game than teaching English to native speakers. According to Jeremy Harmer optimistically TTT time should only be 30% during lesson time and STT should be 70%.
Why is it necessary to optimize STT?
The main goal of TEFL is that students will use the language. Maximize students speaking and responding so that they can use it in day to day life. When a teacher speaks too much the student will get confused or can become lost in translation. Keeping instructions short and clear and eliciting information rather than inputting loads of new words will have a greater outcome.
Teachers should make sure that students comprehend the content. Use eliciting instead of re-explanation in order for students to formulate the meaning of words themselves.
What does too much TTT cause?
When a teacher does most of the talking students can become extremely bored. A lack of concentration causes a very low retention level. Students won’t develop their speaking skills which will lead to uncertainty when they have to speak English to strangers or in the last few minutes of the class.
How do you reduce TTT time and optimize STT?
Make sure your lesson plan is well constructed; you should know exactly what your aim is and how you are going to explain the new key language and grammar points, to avoid lengthy descriptions and explanations. Don’t have a too lengthy explanation about the content of the lesson. Be straight to the point and clear in your instructions. When you have to re-explain and over-discuss a theme for your students to understand the concept, you have to re-evaluate how you presented the content.
Always start your lesson with a short warm-up game, it could be short introduction: “Hello, my name is Katy. I’m a girl. I’m seven years old. I like pink and yellow.” Or a game where they review previous lesson’s vocabulary by one student asking: “What’s this?” and other student answering: “It’s a table” “It’s a big green chair.” It’s great to let your students ask the questions (if they learned the questions in previous lessons.) This will boost their self-confidence and set the tone of the lesson that will follow.
After a short warm up you can introduce the new key language or grammar structure, keeping your explanation short and to the point. Also use very clear examples. For example if you’re teaching: “What color is it? It’s green and blue.” Write down the question on the board. Read it once and let students repeat with you and then a few times by themselves. Already you are letting them talk without them hearing your voice. Later in the lesson you can only prompt your students instead of giving them the full answer. For example only pronounce the ‘wh__ ‘co___’ ____ ___? for the question “What color is it?” Make sure your students repeat the question many times so that they can remember it.
For higher level students you can ask them questions about pictures you’ve prepared or that goes with the text. “What are they doing?” “Who is talking?” “What do you think is going to happen?” “Have you done _____ before?” “Tell me about it?” Instead of asking ‘yes/no’ questions make sure you ask your student open-ended questions giving them room to answer.
Instead of using words use miming, gestures and body language. Playing charades in class where the teacher does the miming (for example when teaching different verbs and actions) and student has to guess. When it’s the students turn to mime they can ask the question “What am I doing?” and teacher can answer, “You are running.”
Have patience with students who are searching for answers in their memory, don’t give them the answer, only prompt and give them time to construct a sentence. Let them repeat the sentence once they’ve put it all together.
Remember to praise your students when they get the question and answer correct! This is a great boost in their confidence.
Always remember that student talking time should be meaningful. Students should use correct grammar and vocabulary. Make sure that your student’s level reflects the way that they speak. If a high level student answers in one-word answers you have to prompt them to use longer sentences.
If a student has learned adjectives that’s more descriptive than ‘big’ and ‘small’ ask them to make better sentences without using the lower-level descriptive words. Encourage them to implement their knowledge into talking.
With lower-level students encourage them to use sentences like: ‘it’s a cat’ instead of just saying ‘cat’.
What activities can you do to encourage and optimize STT?
- Spot the difference – give students two different pictures. They have to spot the difference between the two pictures by pointing and saying what is different.
Sight words – Use flashcards. Student gets 10 flashcards. They have to make a
sentence with each of the sight words. You can add a time limit.
- Sight words – Each student gets 5 sight word flashcards. Alternatively they have to use one flashcard to tell a story. Student 1: ‘One day there was a boy.’
Student 2: ‘He was 5 years old.’
Encourage students to use longer more descriptive sentences.
- Surveys – Create short surveys in the classroom about movies, transport or different countries. The students should be given a few minutes to think about their answers, they then go around the classroom asking each other questions and answering them.
Giving students space and time to practice speaking is a major part in developing English speaking skills.