November 18

TTT – talking or teaching?

I saw Hugh Dellar speaking at ACEIA at the weekend and one thing he mentioned really stuck with me (obviously apart from the actual basis of his talk). He was saying that we should give learners more to develop their linguistic awareness by providing clear context and, at times, multiple examples.
One of the examples he provided was oily: a teacher might present that in a sentence as “My hands are oily” which doesn’t necessarily clarify meaning. He argued instead that we should provide a clearer context, “My car broke down last week and I’ve been working on it this morning so now my hands are oily.”
A member of the audience then asked whether Dellar thought this approach would increase TTT and he responded by saying that it would, but that he saw that as teaching, more than talking.

I agree with his next point that pre-service training tends to be very descriptive and often narrow-minded in what it classes as TTT (teacher talking time). In fact Jamie Keddie has also warned that we should distinguish between that and TTQ, as the quality of our input (accessibility and relevance to learners, among other things) should be taken into consideration.

During my B2.2 class, I sometimes find myself close to getting an imagined slap on the wrist when I suddenly think I’ve over-interjected. However, I always try to ensure that my comments have a meaningful place in the lesson: to personalize or model an activity, to build rapport or to introduce learners to some new language, to name but a few.

Whilst it is important for pre-service training to model and expect best practice, we should also make trainees aware of what we mean by “too much TTT” and how they can avoid it in future lessons as I’ve found on occasion that the phrase is taken to mean ‘talk less’ which can then have a negative impact of class dynamics and rapport.

Posted November 18, 2015 by Teresa Bestwick in category Professional Development

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