Teach English in TiAntaishAnlǚyoukAifA Guanlichu - Huanggang Shi

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In my experience, one of the biggest challenges that new teachers face when they enter the classroom is finding a balance between teacher talk time and student talk time. New teachers will tend to use too much poor quality teacher talk time in their lessons, rather than not enough quality teacher talk time. It is just as important that teachers understand the reasons why teacher talk time needs to be of quality as well as how can they do this. The most important reason for not overusing teacher talk time is that in many lessons it involves the teacher giving out the information the students need rather than them being part of the finding out process. These explanations can often be long, full of terminology/unfamiliar vocabulary, difficult to follow and without any way of checking the students’ understanding. This can lead to students having difficulty in processing and understanding the information. The students may still be processing whilst the teacher has moved on. This not only ensures the students have a lack of understanding of what they are being taught but also leads to demotivation. Linked to this, is the fact that it leads to listening to a teacher explain a concept at a slow pace for a long period of time and a lack of student involvement. This will inevitably lead to frustration, boredom and possible behaviour problems. Overuse of teacher talk time can mean that the teacher becomes the dominant speaker in the classroom and relegates the student to the role of respondent. It limits the opportunities for students to develop their speaking skills, whilst at the same time limiting student autonomy over their learning, as they are unable to take responsibility for their learning. There are many simple techniques and strategies that a teacher can apply in their lessons that will ensure the students are motivated, engaged and participating in the learning process, whilst at the same time making sure the teacher is delivering quality teacher talk. Firstly it is important to keep any explanations short, simple and clear, as this will ensure that students will be able to process and understand the information given and lessen the likelihood of student frustration and demotivation. When planning a lesson the teacher should focus more on how they can elicit the information from the students rather than how they can explain it to them. If the students are provided with clear examples and guiding questions, they will be able to think and discover for themselves. There are many ‘Structured Co-operative Learning Strategies’ that a teacher can use in the ‘Study’ phase of a lesson. These may include: • ‘Think Pair Share’ • ‘Round Robin’ • ‘Numbered Heads’ • ‘Find someone who…’ The use of these during the ‘Study’ phase provides the teacher with an opportunity to elicit understanding as well as engaging the students in the lesson and allowing them to contribute and show their understanding, whilst limiting teacher talk time. Using visual aids is a very simple way of reducing teacher talk time whilst adding an element of stimulation to the lesson. When planning a lesson a teacher should think about how and where they can use real objects, flashcards, pictures or photos. By doing this, it will engage the students, help them remember key information and stimulate discussion so that the teacher can elicit language from the students. As well as using visual aids, a teacher can use body language, mime, gestures and facial expressions rather than words. The position of the teacher in the classroom can also indicate to the students what is expected of them at a particular stage of the lesson. In my experience the key to reducing teacher talk time is building into a teacher’s planning some of the above strategies and techniques. A teacher does not necessarily need to include all of them in every lesson, but using one or two in each lesson will have an impact on teacher talk time. If a teacher takes the time to keep explanations clear and simple, or plans in the use of visual aids, or focuses on how they can elicit information from students, or uses gestures and mimes or allow time for collaborative learning, this will reduce their teacher talk time and provide a stimulating and engaging lesson.