It can always be difficult in prompting learners to talk or respond to questions, particularly if they are not used to it. Teachers can try a number of things: games, rewarding behaviour or input, reminding learners of class rules, offering some form of carrot (a movie at the end of the week) or the threat of homework. For English teachers, it can become quite challenging particularly should one have the same students throughout the year.

There are some reasons why learners can be naturally quiet in the classroom, but encouraging them to interact can improve their progress However, the more the teacher talks, the less the students talk. What is more, you do not want your students to come to class just to listen to you. So Annabelle Fee offers some suggestions: five ways for English teachers to talk less and students to talk more.


1. Do Not Fill The Space

It can be awkward to watch students struggle to make sense of an answer, however, they require time and quietness to work through it. Fight the temptation to talk understudies through each progression of an issue and rather simply watch. Essentially, figure out how to love think time. Giving students a chance to think rather hurrying in to describe or question builds expectation around what will be said straightaway and expands interest as more children are set up to move into the discussion.


2. Moving Away From The Front

It’s not hard to get in the instructional rut where you remain in a similar place close to the board throughout the day. Attempt sometimes, sitting on the sides of the classroom or at a missing student’s desk and say, “I require somebody to go up and show ___ for us.” This is due to students being used to only the teacher being at the board, facilitating the lesson. Furthermore, they are probably going to talk for longer than if you had remained at the front of the classroom with students just sitting taking notes. You can even remain sat among the class once the student has finished and you could get students to ask follow up questions as opposed to the teacher only remarking on their boardwork: “What do you all think?”, “Is this a successful method – how would you know?” and “Does anybody have an alternate procedure?”.


3. Incorporate Signal Into Class

One way to reduce teacher talking time (TTT), is to incorporate particular signals or sounds when there is a transition or change during the lesson. This reduces the amount of talking time connected with instructions and develops recognisable signals to expectations. For example, the teacher could utilize a ring or bell to signal the end of an activity, a windchime to indicate that all learners need to listen to the teacher or a song to indicate the end of the lesson. This is an opportunity for children to recognise sounds or input, other than the teacher, to stages to the lesson. Furthermore, it also reduces any verbal cues.


4. Reduce Temptation

Teachers have a lovely habit of giving a final opinion of approval or encouragement, no matter how well or poorly the student has done. It is this temptation that could ultimately interfere with the activity and amplifying the noise in the classroom. If a student forgets to bring a pen to class, accept it and give them a spare pen. Should a student forget their homework, understand that everyone has a life outside of the classroom. Reduce the temptation of giving that stamp of approval or talking to the student and let learners find their way. It is always more educational for students to learn through challenges, than being guided or supported to some extent.


5. Student Reasoning

It is often more informative for teachers to prompt learners to describe their reasoning for particular answers or findings. As with the previous tip, teachers have a tendency to give a rubber a stamp of approval, “This is great work and I particularly like the way you …”. However, a teacher could get learners to provide a reason why their answer is appropriate, “This is a good answer, but could you explain how this could be?”. Having this enquiring passion within your teaching could offer greater opportunities for discussion among learners and reduce the teacher’s voice in the classroom.


Annabelle FeeAnnabelle Fee is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor: SmileTutor is the leading home tuition agency for parents and students looking for home tutors.