The development of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) brought with it a methodology which emphasised communication in the classroom, pair and group activities and student involvement in the learning process. A consequence of this was the belief that the teacher’s presence in the classroom should be reduced.
Why reduce TTT
Many training courses based on CLT insisted that teacher talking time (TTT) was counterproductive and that teachers should reduce TTT for a number of reasons:
Strategies for reducing TTT
The over-use of TTT is often the product of the under-use of communicative techniques in the classroom. Many activities do not need to be teacher led – pair work or group work can be used instead. An activity might be set up in T/class mode, demonstrated in open pairs (students doing the activity across the class), and done in closed pairs (all the students working at the same time). Some mechanical activities need to be done individually but can be checked in pairs. What is most important is that activities and interaction patterns need to be varied. The amount of time spent in T/class mode will depend on factors such as the students and how much they know, the stage of the lesson, the time of day and what is being taught, but a useful guideline is a limit of 30% of a lesson, and no more than 10 minutes at one time.
Other common strategies for reducing TTT include:
Positive uses of TTT
In recent years, approaches other than CLT have suggested that TTT may not always be counterproductive and can be used to good effect. The teacher provides good listening practice which is not inhibited by the sound quality of a tape or CD player and which is accompanied by visual clues to aid comprehension. In a monolingual teaching context overseas, the teacher may provide a valuable source of authentic listening, exposing learners to a limited amount of new language, and ‘roughly tuning’ input to assist comprehension. In some circumstances, the teacher may be the only source of models of good, natural language. Some forms of TTT are clearly beneficial:
There are advantages and disadvantages to TTT. It is not easy to reduce TTT when talking to the students is a natural thing to do and when there is inevitably a theatrical side to language teaching. In certain cultures, there is also a tradition of ‘chalk and talk’ which influences the expectations and behaviour of both teachers and students. However, bearing in mind the nature of the communicative classroom, teachers should perhaps be aware of the quality of their TTT and how it is used rather than trying to reduce it to a bare minimum.
~~By Steve Darn,
Dellar, H. Rethinking Teacher Talking Time, TESOL Spain Newsletter, 2004. http://www.tesol-spain.org/newsletter/hughdellar.html Lynch, T. Communication in the Language Classroom OUP, 1996
Scrivener, J. Learning Teaching (2nd Edition), Macmillan, 2005
Zaro, J. & Salaberri, S. Storytelling, Macmillan, 1995