Published 29th December 2015


Student talk time is exactly what it says on the tin; the amount of time your students are talking in the classroom. In essence this should be maximised and the amount of time the teacher is talking (teacher talk time) should be kept to an essential minimum. Of course this shouldn’t be at the expense of the students understanding, inevitably when explaining a complex grammar point you may need to spend a little longer on the explanation that usual. Though it is worth noting that often the students will understand better when they start to use the language themselves. After all, practice makes perfect.

Here we’ve got some great ways to help you maximise your student talk time….

The 20/80 Lesson Plan

When planning your lesson, make sure that your teacher talk time is limited to about 20 percent of the lesson. This means preparing clear instructions and examples so you don’t get lost in your explanation and end up speaking for too long. This also means making sure you have enough activities planned to fill the rest of the time. The teachers’ nightmare is running out of activities before the end of a lesson so it’s always good to have something extra up your sleeve.

Never Believe That They Have Finished

When you set a speaking activity students have a tendency to talk as little as possible to as few people as possible and then tell you that they are finished. It’s your job as the teacher to make sure that they continue speaking for as long as the activity is planned. If they appear to be getting tired you can always throw in a little something extra. If they are talking about their future get them to pretend they are a famous celebrity, they’ll use the same vocabulary but you’ve just extended the activity with an interesting new spin.

Think, Pair, and Share

These three words should be a rule for every activity which you undertake in the classroom. From marking homework, textbook activities and even other speaking activities you can always get them to share their thoughts, answers, experiences first in a pair and then share it with a small group. This is a great way of getting them to speak more even if that particular lesson doesn’t have a large emphasis on speaking.

These are three simple ways of generating conversation and student talk time in every lesson, there are of course many other ways one can facilitate this, and remember the more they speak, the easier it is for a teacher and the more the students learn!