Teach English in Wangying Zhen - Huangshi Shi

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TTT, is the word I had never heard of during my first year of working as a teacher. After being observed at a session of a starter class, they just told me that I had to reduce TTT and just left me alone with this strange word. After looking the abbreviation up I realized this was the same technique we were taught in TTC, Teacher Training Course, as Teacher Talking Time. That is why I will never forget it as an essential teaching skill every teacher must possess. Because of the lack of vocabulary and language skills in starter-level classes, the students cannot produce as much language as they can in an intermediate course; that is why the teacher may take the role of an explainer or a lecturer and therefore does not give the students time or the chance to speak in the classroom. To be able to solve this problem in my starter classes, I went on with something that I just had made up to be able to observe myself, which I found out later to be a real technique in EFL studies. By the help of a video camera or a voice recorder you could observe your own teaching process and control if you have a high TTT. This is what I did to learn about my own teaching process during a starter-level session. First, I went ahead with a voice recorder and recorded a whole session. Then I listened to it a couple of times and shared it with my EFL supervisor. We discussed the problem and decided some solutions for it; one of them being “Avoid echoing!” , which means not to repeat the students’ answers a lot, lots of progress was made in decreasing teacher speaking time. The second technique, was using gestures and hands to give instructions which made the class really funny. We came up with some special codes to give instructions or to agree or disagree with something; for example while doing group work, show your hands like the letter “T” to say Time is up!, or move your fingers around each other to say Repeat the answer again!, etc. We decided to reduce giving instructions by eliciting them on the board and by the help of the students themselves. The other technique which really helped me in the process was to ask open-ended questions if there is enough time according to the lesson plan. This way, instead of just saying Yes or No, the students have to make a full sentence to answer the question which increases Student Talking Time and therefore, decreases Teacher Talking Time. One of the important things to achieve the goal is to get help from the students so they could participate more. One example could be not to answer each and every question yourself, let the other students answer their classmates’ question, if you know at least one knows the answer. If the teacher wants the students to participate and speak more, he should, of course, give them time to think and to answer. This way they would feel more comfortable and more confident to speak. And as it is taught in EFL teaching courses, if the teacher does not go hard on the students and makes a comfortable environment for them they could feel more confident to speak. This means that the teacher does not need to correct each and every mistake he hears in order not to interrupt them. One of the ways to achieve this is telling jokes or have them tell some anecdotes they know to their classmates. Or even they could read a story and have a half-session of story-telling in the classroom. Which definitely would work better in intermediate-level classes where the students possess a larger package of vocabulary. The essential goal in every EFL class being the students to be able to produce the language, it is the job of the teacher to let this happen by giving them time and motivation. It may seem a little difficult at first but with practice and a precise lesson plan, every teacher could benefit of this skill of speaking less and giving the chance to the students to speak. For a more precise self-observation, you can also refer to “Learning Teaching, The Essential Guide to English Language Teaching”, Jim Scrivener, Chapter 16, “Lesson self-assessment” and use the list of the questions recommended in the chapter.