English is in a unique position among world languages. It is used across the globe, which has led to countless studies being conducted in order to improve instruction methods, which has itself led to the invention of many new terms and acronyms. Among the myriad acronyms that are used in TEFL (an intentional plot to confuse outsiders, I think), TTT is perhaps my favourite.
Why I like TTT
There are two reasons for this: 1. It has two meanings (thus backing up my idea that acronyms are indeed used to ward off potential newcomers from understanding the secrets of TEFL), and 2. I am prone to talking too much in my lessons, making me ever aware of the issue of TTT (Teacher Talking Time).
Incidentally, the second meaning of TTT is ‘test-teach-test‘.
Teacher Talking Time: What is it?
As far as I see it, you can only have three things in a classroom: TTT, STT (Student Talking Time) or silence. Most English schools base their methods on the importance of communication in language learning, which means that silence should be minimal.
At the same time, the idea is that the teacher already speaks English so there is no need for them to speak extensively. Therefore, STT should be the priority in the classroom.
Why decrease TTT?
It is vital that students speak a lot during the lessons. If you are teaching in a non-English country then the lesson is probably the one and only regular chance that your English students have to speak English. It follows, then, that they should be given opportunity to talk. TTT eats into the time that they have to communicate, so TTT should be kept to a minimum.
While the teacher is talking, the students are (hopefully) listening. This means students are being told what to think, what is right and wrong. The goal, however, is to make English thinkers and speakers. This means you have to teach students how to apply what they learn and how to think for themselves in English. It is, then, much better to elicit ideas and responses from students rather than simply to state the answer.
Loss of concentration
Extensive TTT also leads to a drop in concentration among students. Active participation, on the other hand, keeps the students involved and encourages them to be mentally alert.
In the next blog…
These are the main problems with TTT. It would be foolish to think that the teacher should not talk at all during the lesson, though. Rather, the teacher should contribute a lot in terms of language and instructions. What are the benefits to TTT? And how can TTT be controlled and decreased?
Tune in next week for the answers. Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel (that’s a nod to 60’s Batman creator and living legend Lorenzo Semple Jr., but you already knew that, right?).