Benito Vacio

Teacher talking time

What happens if the teacher does a lot of talking in the classroom?

Hey, friends. Let me ask you a question. How do you consider yourself as an English teacher? Are you the teacher who talks most of the time or one teacher who lets students do more of the talking?

So what if we teachers talk a lot? What's wrong with that? After all we are knowledgeable, credible, and persons of authority. On the other hand, what good does it bring if students do most of the talking?

As an English teacher, when I teach, I see to it that my students do more of the talking in class rather than I doing it because I am already good in the language. I don't need practice to the expense of my students. The students need it very much. I serve only as a facilitator and a model in pronouncing and reading. But after that, the students can do the talking.

Students need more practice in speaking for most of them don't have enough stimulating conditions to practice the language at home.

What happens if the teacher does a lot of talking in the classroom? Well, I thought of these ideas:

1. The lesson is teacher centered.
2. The teacher gets tired easily especially when he/she has a lot of classes to teach in a day.
3. Students have fewer opportunities to practice speaking.
4. Students won't easily understand the activities for teachers' instructions are elaborative.
5. The learners are passive.

On the other hand, what good things does minimal teacher talk bring?

1. The teacher has more chances of monitoring students' performance.
2. The teacher is less stressed.
3. Students are actively involved in the lesson.
4. Good teaching practice is reflected.
6. More student participation.

What kinds of activities give students more opportunities to speak a lot?

1.Pair Groups (Dyads) - Students work in pairs. With the given tasks, worksheets, or situations, two students converse with one another to achieve the teacher's purpose.

2. Group Work - The class is broken into smaller groups. Each group does the assigned task while the teacher moves around to see what group needs assistance.

3.Storytelling - After the story has been told, assessed, and enriched, it's the students turn to tell the story in their own language in their own understanding.

4.Simulation Activities - With a certain topic, students actually execute the lesson as if it was real. For instance: Simulating a patient consulting the doctor because of an illness, etc.

5.Language Games - Not merely fun games but games about the lesson that involve language where students can acquire and practice English as they listen and speak. Games like, "Did you see my cow?" Who will run? Etc.

6.Free Conversation - The teacher starts the conversation about what they did on weekends, holidays, or experiences about a recent happening and students share their ideas about the topic.

7.Students acting as teachers - The teacher will relinquish his/her task and lets the good students do the facilitation of some activities in the lesson like flashing cards, pointing to materials to be read by the classmates, scoring, or judging.

Yes, let our students do most of the talking in class by providing a lot of opportunities for real talking. "Learning how to swim is actually swimming in the pool and not reading, listening, or writing about swimming."



For anonymous Earth, T. Mark, coteacher, Chris, and Normina, thanks a lot for giving your comments. Let me add... I agree not much can be done in Maths but one high school teacher of mine before, after every seatwork, she would exempt the first one to answer in the coming quiz, but the student had to explain what were given, the solution, and the computation. We felt good about it and we were able to integrate English in our Trigonomety class and had our functional practice of English. Teaching Reading with comprehension questions is okay but ask questions that are not found in the selection like thought provoking that require students to express their opinions, tell their stories in their own words, write the summary of the story, make the beginning, middle or ending of stories/create their own stories related to the selection studied.

By Benito Vacio, Nonthaburi (19th February 2015)

I think the article is a mere suggestion on how to become an ideal English teacher. If Thai culture abhors such style, it is up to the teacher how to guide the class, i.e. by following the above detailed suggestions. It may not be the reality for most teachers, but an effective teacher could lead the way into such a situation and transform the reality into the ideal one. Otherwise, the teacher could be a mere 'typical' teacher.

By Normina, MN (17th February 2015)

Hello Coteacher,

Unfortunately i am teaching in an international school. It seems to be latest fashion now. Open a school, put international in the name, charge 6 times more and then do exactly the same you would do in a Thai private school.

I think the parents are starting to wise up to it but it is such a pity that the students do want to improve themselves but oligarchical processes will not allow them.

I am moving soon to a Thai government school for the next school year. My current students have recognised that reading and comprehension is the problem. I will be teaching them after hours via skype. I will be setting a book for them to read and every saturday morning we do exercises so the students can express their understanding of what they read during the week.

We have already read Coraline, Willy wonka and Bedknobs and broomsticks. I am no sure what will come next. If anyone has any suggestions i am open to them.

Have fun.

By T Mark, Phitsunalok (17th February 2015)

I may have missed this above but I can definitely say that the Thai staff has a 90 - 10 talk time in rote learning and fill in the blank. The only time the students get to talk is while they ignore all the teachers and talk to each other and on their cell phones which we are not allowed to take from them.
Get real here. This ain't Kansas Toto and school is just a fantasy away from non existent. Thai kids are not taught to think or respond to a teacher.
Problem seems to always be applied to the foreign staff though. Anything to point us out and make us look different even if the difference is a better education. Nothing we do is acceptable unless it can be used against us.

By Coteacher, NE Thailand (17th February 2015)

To Mark, I totally agree with you.

Real classroom learning here are taught at International schools, some Private schools and few Normal schools. And you are lucky if you belong in this group.

Most schools (to be fair 50%) must do something to improve their learning standards.

I think they should have a proper evaluation before any student goes on to another level.

By By CHRIS, BKK (16th February 2015)

Well said. But it is not always the case. In Math, especially higher Math, students should learn how to listen and analyze the problem. So, the teacher need to talk many times than the students.

By anonymous, Earth (16th February 2015)

T. Mark , thanks for the informative comments. For MIck, thanks for the comments too. For MJ, It would be best to have less teacher for teachers of other subjets. In fact, my Social Studies teacher friend in the Philippines uses reporting method. This can de done in all subjects so that students will be trained to express themselves...

By Benito Vacio, Nonthaburi (14th February 2015)

Of course education is based around the students and what they are able to do but I also understand that listing a group of ideas that should be used to obtain the result required is very different. Lets look at the cultural problems associated.

1) Students in Thailand are taught not to question but to copy everything that is said to them ( i know we have all heard this before). Having a student break this trend takes many hours of work and trust of the teacher before students will open up.

2) As a deep understanding of process and narrative are not high points on a school pedagogies (I mean everything is often changed at the last minute so what is seen is not neccesarily what is really going on .) it is hard to build a deep understanding of how the subject being taught is relevant to the students needs or can be widened to give a holistic understanding of the content.

Unfortunately for myself I must start a topic or subject with a large amount of teacher talk time to set a scene for the students to visualise and hopefully take an interest in that content . School should never be fun but it should be interesting.

The final report card score is more valued than the knowledge being taught and how that knowledge can be used by the student. This is where students involvement should come in. 10 years in Thailand has taught me that students have very little prior knowledge of a subject as they are taught that the test score is the most important thing.

If curriculum design is analysed it is no secret that each year students at different levels are taught basically the same thing but at a deeper level of understanding in higher grades. The students must rely on the previous knowledge taught in previous years to build a holistic approach to learning.

As much as this article is relevant and helpfull it is also extremely simplistic. Once again we are being told what should be done. is anyone actually building a program of how it could be done. i suspect that unfortunately most of you are still just doing a lesson plan as requested by the boss because that is what the regional director wants to see.

I suspect that I am now in trouble with that final comment.

Have fun in your teaching

By T Mark, Phitsunalok (13th February 2015)

I thought it was the teachers job to make the kids do the majority of the talking not the other way around.

By Mick, Ireland (12th February 2015)

Very practical tips from an expert teacher! Reminds me of my late Mom. Question: Do you think it is applicable only for language subjects like English?

By MJ, Philippines (12th February 2015)

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