In last week’s blog, we looked at what TTT is, and what issues it raises. Among the points discussed was that Teacher Talking Time (TTT) decreases STT (Student Talking Time), makes the lessons too prescriptive, and leads to a drop in concentration. Controlling TTT, then, is essential. But there are benefits to TTT, as we shall see.
When and why is TTT necessary?
For me, one of the major benefits of TTT is that it can improve your students listening skills. If you are teaching in a non-English speaking country then the learners’ only chance to hear improvised, natural language is likely to be through you.
Audio study materials, English media and arts materials and other texts may be ways for them to practice listening, but the real, everyday and, frankly, most important type of listening has to come from a ‘live’ situation, such as the normal speech of an English teacher.
Patterns and intonation
Stress, toning, and intonation are things that can’t be learned from books (generally speaking). Teacher Talking Time has an effect on the way your students speak. It is often found that English students pick up the accent of their teacher (I recently met someone whose English teacher was from South Africa, which was self-evident in his speech patterns). Listening to the teacher helps students to learn correct sense stress and intonation, beyond the obvious effect on pronunciation.
Explaining new words
The teacher is there to teach. Sounds obvious, I know, but there is a limit to how much reducing TTT can achieve. If you always elicit definitions and examples from students, you will find that a lot of the lesson time can be eaten up by things that are not included in the goals for the day. Therefore, it is sometimes best for the teacher to explain quickly and clearly the meaning of a new word, particularly if it is a word that comes up during an activity.
These, then, are the major benefits of TTT. A lot more can be said about it by people more intelligent than me, but the key idea is to recognize when TTT is necessary, reduce the counter-productive type of TTT and always encourage students to speak.