Teacher Talk Time vs Student Talk Time: Teacher vs Student Centered Time in the Classroom
Trained teachers realize that the classroom is often the ONLY place their EFL students have an opportunity to speak in English and thus make provision for as much student talk time as possible.
Untrained teachers still often believe they are the center for the classroom and should bring photos of their family and home town and talk about that. They assume that students will find them fascinating as the center of conversation.
Students will be polite and listen, but they aren’t learning much and they aren’t getting much speaking practice.
I read a LOT of lesson plans and one of the first mistakes newbie and untrained teachers make is believing that each student must talk directly with the teacher. But in a sixty-minute class with twenty students that means, at a maximum, each student will be able to converse for only three minutes.
If you put them in pairs the maximum jumps to the full sixty minutes. Both examples are extremes, but if we accept that they don’t get much opportunity to practice speaking and listening, we can see that pair work offers a huge advantage.
Of course students need to hear your natural speech, but that can happen in the presentation/engagement portion of the lesson, during the warm-up, wrap up and also incidentally at other times.
Try to organize your lessons to maximize the amount of actual speaking practice for your students. Keep your lesson targeted on the students and what they need to learn. A student centered classroom is a much more effective learning environment. And take those pictures of your family back to your apartment! Unless, of course, you are talking about families and the students will soon be talking about theirs.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Keep your class focused on the target language and get your students talking. Learning speaking skills is a lot like riding a bicycle. You have to actually do it to get good at it. The best way to maximize student talk time is with pair work – early and often in the lesson.