As you are probably already aware, the way a teacher interacts with their students is of vital importance to creating an environment conducive to learning. In today’s post – the second in the series on teacher talk - we are going to look at a few of the more important things we need to consider in relation to our current teaching practices and offer up a few thinking points to mull over on the subject.
So without further ado, let me present: Teacher Talk - Preferences and Practices.
Preferences & Practices – In this post I am not only going to give you a brief overview of what seems to be the norm in many EFL classrooms, but also provide you with some thinking points on the subject.
As usual, my post will be based on facts (real facts – Google them to see for yourself) and personal research and observation. And in this post instead of offering you a manuscript on the subject (which could get rather boring), I’m just going to rely on my good friend – the bullet point.
- In traditional teacher-fronted classrooms the teacher often speaks more than the students.Thinking points: Maybe the teacher should aim for ‘quality talk’ and not ‘quantity talk’. How can you decrease your talk time and increase the available talk time for students? (For more on this topic please see the third post in this series: Teacher Talk Time (TTT) –Making Cutbacks.)
- In general, most instances of teacher-student classroom communication (approximately 50-70% of all teacher-student interactions – depending on which research you believe) take the form of an IRF sequence (initiation-response-feedback). The IRF sequence usually involves the teacher asking a question, the student responding, and then the teacher offering feedback.Thinking points: How can you use the IRF sequence more effectively in your classes? When should you use the IRF sequence? Is there a better way of encouraging more student interaction and talk time?
How can you make the IRF more interactive and enjoyable? Check out this idea and see what you think.
- Recasts (rephrasing an incorrect or incomplete learner utterance while still maintaining its central meaning) are usually the most common form of corrective feedback provided by teachers in EFL classes. Thinking points: What other methods of feedback can you provide? How can you help a student notice and correct their own errors?
- Teachers often rely on a limited range of feedback/correction techniques. Thinking points: Have you considered different ways to give feedback and/or make corrections (e.g. direct feedback, indirect feedback, meta-linguistic feedback, peer-to-peer feedback etc.)? Why do you use the types of feedback and correction techniques you have chosen?
- In many instances teachers jump in too early to either complete a student’s utterance or offer a prompt. Thinking points: Are you giving your students enough time to process the input? Are you allowing enough time for a student to formulate their response?
- Teachers usually ask more display/closed type questions than they do open/referential type questions. Thinking points: What is the intention behind the question you asked (e.g. to test knowledge or to elicit more student talk)? How well do your questions suit your overall learning goals?
I hope the above thinking points can be of benefit to you and your students. I also hope you join me in the next post all about the importance of reducing teacher talk time.
Thanks for reading,
Keep English Real!