You are on page 1of 14

CLASSROOM TALK by Philippa Law "It's not fair! Boys get all the attention!

" Girls and boys play different roles in conversation, just as men and women do. They learn what is expected of the two sexes early on, from observing - unconsciously - how the grown-ups around them behave. In a study of children aged 2-5, parents interrupted their daughters more than their sons, and fathers were more likely to talk simultaneously with their children than mothers were. Jennifer Coates says: "It seems that fathers try to control conversation more than mothers... and both parents try to control conversation more with daughters than with sons. The implicit message to girls is that they are more interruptible and that their right to speak is less than that of boys." "Just as men dominate the floor in business meetings, so little boys dominate in the classroom." Girls and boys' differing understanding of when to talk, when to be quiet, what is polite and so on, has a visible impact on the dynamics of the classroom. Just as men dominate the floor in business meetings, academic conferences and so on, so little boys dominate in the classroom - and little girls let them. Research confirms what most kids would already be able to tell you. Boys are noisy, they call out answers, argue and are rude to girls. Girls, on the other hand, are more inclined on average to sit quietly, avoid joining in discussions, and ignore the boys. A study of children working on science experiments in the Netherlands showed that same-sex pairs of either sex worked co-operatively together, but in mixed pairs, the boys did most of the doing, and the girls tidied up afterwards! Even when the teacher is chairing the conversation, boys are still in charge. Various studies have come up with the same conclusion: boys get more attention from teachers than girls do. In one example, boys made twice as many contributions as girls, and talked for longer. This may have been in part because they were getting more encouragement from the teacher. The teacher was videotaped and her eyegaze monitored - she looked towards the boys for almost two thirds of the time, and in particular, she looked at the boys when she wanted an answer to a question. The researcher also noticed that girls often put their hand up just after the teacher had picked someone to answer. Hands up who was guilty of that at school... Dale Spender observed in 1982 that teachers find it very hard to ensure a balance between boys' and girls' contributions, but when specifically trying to achieve equal participation, female teachers were better at it than male ones. One male teacher who did manage to get girls to talk as much as boys said afterwards that he'd felt like he was giving almost all his attention to the girls. Since boys, girls and teachers are all

complicit in boys' dominance, it makes sense that one of these parties would find it tough to change the group dynamics all on their own. Although Jennifer Coates believes that the differences in conversation strategies between girls and boys "limits girls' opportunities to learn," the effects of imbalance in the classroom aren't reflected in exam results - girls regularly do better than boys. PROMOTING EFFECTIVE CLASSROOM PARTICIPATION Classroom participation is a feature of many course designs. It can result in insightful comments and interesting connections being made by students, and can foster a high level of energy and enthusiasm in the classroom learning environment. However, poorly managed participation can also lead to instructor frustration and student confusion. Below are strategies to consider using to make your classroom participation more effective. What does participation mean? Be clear with your definition and intention. Participation is often equated with discussion, which typically involves a lengthy conversation with the whole class. However, participation can also include short exchanges between instructors and students, or within small groups of students. If you include participation in your roster of assessments, you need to clearly communicate to your students what it will entail and why you are including a participation component. Do see participation as the outcome of student preparation? Are you interested in the quality of contributions or quantity? Does participation enable students to take risks and make errors as part of their learning? Does it increase their exposure to other ways of thinking? Does it enable them to demonstrate and develop their communication skills? Is it possible for a student to participate too much? Seek consensus. While you can independently prepare a rubric that explains how you will assess participation, you may find that students will participate more enthusiastically if you ask them to help define what constitutes effective participation and then ask them to develop a rubric with you. Bean & Peterson (1998) suggest asking students to identify features of effective discussions they have experienced in the past, including the behaviours and roles of both the students and the instructor. How do I encourage participation? Foster an ethos of participation. Hollander (2002) discusses the need to present participation as a collective responsibility of the class rather than just an individual responsibility. In order to facilitate a conversation where connections are made, students need to view their participation as a contribution to a shared experience. Asking students to respond to a peers response helps to facilitate a conversation. As well, positively reinforcing such contributions builds this sense of collectivism.

Teach students skills needed to participate. Students may not yet have the skills required to participate effectively. A discussion about characteristics of effective participation can reveal undeveloped areas in your students: ask them how they have participated in previous courses, and whether they could use some assistance. Devise activities that elicit participation. Discussion-based activities such as case-study analyses, role playing, and jigsaws encourage students to talk with one another and with the instructor. To be effective, however, they typically require clear instructions, including timelines. With one-on-one exchanges, you can adopt a deep questioning approach, probing students about the reasoning behind their responses, sometimes doing so repeatedly to achieve greater depth (Yes, but why do you think that?). Participation can also be facilitated by certain learning technologies. For example, you can use clickers to collect students responses to multiple-choice questions. You can extend the learning with clickers by having students first respond individually and then having them respond again after discussing their ideas with their peers. Some instructors, too, encourage participation via micro-blogging technologies such as Twitter: students have the option of participating verbally or of typing their contributions into a live Twitter feed. Consider your position in the room. Moving away from the front of the classroom can sometimes promote better participation. If students perceive that all comments must be channeled through you, you become a gatekeeper for participation and it becomes harder to promote a sense collective responsibility. Try moving to the side or even the back of the room and see how students respond. Ask students to assess their own participation. This strategy begins with having students set one or more goals for their participation at the start of the term. Hollander (2002) suggests that these goals need to be concrete and attainable in one term, and they should submit them to you in written form. At least once during the term, you should ask students to then assess their own participation: What is working well? What could be improved? What progress are they making on their goals? If you have developed a rubric for assessing participation, ask students to assign themselves a grade based on the rubric, a justification for the grade, and their plans to improve it if it falls below their expected level of achievement. Giving students a sense of responsibility for their participation can be very motivating. Ensure that everyone's contributions are audible. In a large classroom, or even a small one with poor acoustics, it might be difficult for a student making a verbal contribution to be heard by a classmate on the other side of the room. This can detract significantly from the class dynamics, as students will become frustrated or cease to pay attention if they can't hear what is being shared. Frequently, students will need to be encouraged to speak loudly and clearly. Try reminding them that they should be addressing their comments not to you, who might happen to be standing close by, but to the classmate who is sitting farthest away. When a quiet student starts to speak, it's often helpful to resist your natural inclination to move closer, and instead to move to the other side of the room, so that the student is encouraged to speak more loudly. In some cases, you may need to reiterate a student's contribution, to ensure that everyone hears it.

Consider the use of an online poll before the class discussion. Students may be more willing to participate in debates and discussions if they can see that other students share their views. The results from a preclass anonymous poll can be presented to students as a starting point or to set the stage for their in-class discussion. How do I assess participation? Keep written records. You need to develop a system that works for you. Some instructors use class pictures, name tents, seating charts, or attendance lists to keep track of student names so they can record participation each class. Teaching assistants may be needed to help record students contributions if your class is large. In these large classes, it may be necessary to ask students to state their name before making their comment so that participation can be accurately recorded. A simple check mark system (one check for good contributions and two for outstanding ones) can be enough to record evidence of students contributions. Such a system can be complemented by having students record their own contributions for submission after every class or as an aggregate every few weeks. Regardless of the system that you choose, you need one that is efficient so that the process of assessing student participation does not become too onerous for you or the students. Consider the students self-assessments. You should provide your own written feedback on their selfassessments. You may also want to meet individually with students whose self-assessment of their participation differs markedly from your assessment. Use peer evaluation. In small classes, where students know one another's names, it is feasible to ask each student to evaluate the participation of everyone in the class; doing so not only gives you, the instructor, useful information, but also encourages each student to consider his or her participation in the context of the class as a whole. Even in large classes, students can reasonably be expected to assess the participation of classmates with whom they have worked closely, for example, in a small group or groupproject setting. Having a clear rubric helps students make these peer assessments in an objective and "evidence-based" manner. Further Resources Bean, J.C. & Peterson, D. (1998). Grading Classroom Participation. In R.S. Anderson & B.W. Speck (Eds.) New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 74 (Summer), 33-40. Brookfield, S.D. (1999). Discussion as a Way of Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Davis, B.G. (1993). Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc. Hollander, J.A. (2002). Learning to discuss: strategies for improving the quality of class discussion. Teaching Sociology, 30 (July), 317-327. Related CTE Teaching Tips:

INCREASING STUDENT PARTICIPATION While increasing participation is an obvious goal in courses that include frequent discussions and smallgroup work, it is also important in a lecture course. In short, if only a few students participate by volunteering answers, asking questions, or contributing to discussions, class sessions become to some extent a lost opportunity to assess and promote learning. You can improve student participation in your course by devoting time and thought to shaping the environment and planning each class session. Furthermore, the way in which you interact, both verbally and non-verbally, communicates to students your attitude about participation. Ideally, the goal of increasing participation is not to have every student participate in the same way or at the same rate. Instead, it is to create an environment in which all participants have the opportunity to learn and in which the class explores issues and ideas in depth, from a variety of viewpoints. Some students will raise their voices more than others; this variation is a result of differences in learning preferences as well as differences in personalities. For example, some students who do not speak often in class are reflective learners, who typically develop ideas and questions in their minds before speaking; others are shy students who feel uncomfortable speaking in front of groups (at least initially). Many students who frequently volunteer to contribute are active learners, who typically think while they speak. The instructors goal is to create conditions that enable students of various learning preferences and personalities to contribute. To reach this goal, you will need to take extra steps to encourage quiet students to speak up and, occasionally, ask the more verbose students to hold back from commenting in order to give others a chance. This handout is divided into the following sections: Shaping the Environment Planning Listening and Responding Links and References Shaping the Environment Reserve a classroom that will accommodate the kind of participation you have in mind. Starting on the first day of class, arrange the room in a way that encourages active engagement. When it is time to reserve a classroom, keep in mind not only the number of student chairs you will need, but also whether these chairs should be moveable. If you lead frequent discussions, consider moving the chairs into a circle or U to ensure that students can see, and speak to, one another. If you are teaching in a large lecture hall, consider asking students to move so that they are concentrated near the front of the room. Move the chairs back to their standard configuration at the end of class (in University-managed classrooms, see the diagram posted near the door). Make clear from the beginning your expectation that students will participate. On the first day of class, explain what you see as valuable about class participation. Indicate that you want

to do all you can to ensure that the classroom dynamics and activities support full participation, including calling on students who do not raise their hands and sometimes asking frequent contributors to allow others to have a chance. Ask students to inform you if you can make any changes to improve the classroom dynamics and rates of participation. On the first day of class, give students a clear idea of what to expect regarding participation. If you plan to lecture each day with pauses for questions and discussion, do so on the first day; if you plan to lead more extended discussions, then do so on the first day (see Tips for Teaching on the First Day of Class). Consider whether you will assign a grade to students performance in discussions so that they understand the importance of participating. If you do plan to grade participation, inform students of the specific criteria that you will use. For example, will you evaluate the frequency and quality of their contributions, as well as how effectively they each respond to others comments? Will you include in each participation grade the students performance on informal writing, online discussions, minor group projects, or other work? Grading student participation is especially important, and usually essential, in discussion courses (see Teaching with Discussions). Learn and use students names. Students will be more engaged if they believe that you perceive them as individuals, rather than as anonymous members of a group. Encourage students to learn one anothers names, as well; this strategy will increase the possibility that they will address one another by name and direct their comments to one another, not just to you. Return to top. Planning In a discussion course, assign to your students some of the responsibility for increasing participation by all. For example, on the first day of class, you might tell students your goals for class participation (e.g., informed and lively discussions in which everyone participates) and ask them to come up with a list of guidelines that will help the class reach this goal. Typically, they will generate excellent guidelines such as do not interrupt others when they are talking and critique the ideas; dont criticize the person. Post this list on the course Web site and hand it out in class. Students who feel invested from the beginning in making the discussions successful will be more likely to work together to increase participation. Consider requiring students to lead discussions or to submit discussion questions before class. Provide guidance and assess student performance on these tasks (assigning a score, for example, that forms a part of the class participation grade.) In discussion courses in which you are having trouble getting students to participate, consider asking students to submit anonymous comments on class participation as well as suggestions on how to get more people involved; often, they will let you know that there are problems with the classroom dynamics that you may not see yourself (such as that some students resent the domination of discussion by one or two others) or that the structure of the discussions has become too predictable or formulaic.

Use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, discussions, and small-group work. If you are teaching a lecture course, set aside time during each lecture to ask and answer questions, to ask students to solve a problem, or to discuss an issue. Pause every 15-20 minutes for this purpose. When students learn to expect these opportunities for discussion or questioning, they will listen more actively to the lecture. If you lecture for 45 minutes before you pause for questions or discussion, your students will have been taking notes for so long that they may find it difficult to switch modes quickly. Furthermore, they may well have forgotten questions, comments, or unclear concepts from the earlier parts of class (see Teaching with Lectures). If you are teaching a discussion course, integrate short lectures into the lesson plan in order to introduce concepts, clarify and order ideas, and help students make connections. Use small-group discussions, informal writing assignments, and online discussions before or at the start of class to prompt student thinking about the discussion topic. These strategies can be effective ways to provide reflective learners and shy students a means of developing ideas that they can then contribute to the class discussion. Commenting on the insights that quieter students contribute in small-group discussions and on informal writing assignments and online discussions can encourage them to speak up in the larger group; you might comment on a students written work, for example, this analysis is insightful; the entire class would benefit from hearing your ideas more often (see Teaching with Discussions). Organize each class session to include opportunities throughout to ask and answer questions; prepare initial and follow-up questions ahead of time. Use questions to assess student learning, to signal to students which material is the most important, and to help students advance their knowledge and thinking. (For a discussion of strategies for formulating questions, see Asking Questions to Improve Learning). Encourage students to ask questions throughout the class (approximately every 15 minutes), not just at the end. If grading student participation, plan to give students a preliminary participation grade, as well as a brief written evaluation of their performance. If you will grade class participation, give students preliminary grades as early as 3-4 weeks into the semester and at midterm so that they will know where they stand. Your written evaluation can be designed to encourage the quiet students to talk more often and the verbose students to hold their comments to give others a chance to participate). Return to top. Listening and Responding Use verbal and non-verbal cues to encourage participation. Do not rely on the same volunteers to answer every question. Respond to frequent volunteers in a way that indicates that you appreciate their responses, but want to hear from others as well. Move to a part of the room where quiet students are sitting; smile at and make eye contact with these students to encourage them to speak up. By the same token, when frequent volunteers speak, look around the room rather than only at them to encourage others to respond (see below).

Reduce students anxieties by creating an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable thinking out-loud, taking intellectual risks, asking questions, and admitting when they do not know something; one of the best ways to do this is to model these behaviors yourself. Give students time to think before they respond to your questions. Do not be afraid of silence. Give students 5-10 seconds to think and formulate a response. If 10-15 seconds pass without anyone volunteering an answer and the students are giving you puzzled looks, rephrase your question. Do not give in to the temptation to answer your own questions, which will condition students to hesitate before answering to see if you will supply the answer. Patience is key; do not be afraid of silence. The longer you wait for students to respond, the more thoughtful and complex those responses are likely to be. Often, there is at least one student in every class who will quickly raise her or his hand to answer nearly every question. If you consistently call on this student, those who require more time to formulate answers will simply learn to wait for this student to answer. (See Asking Questions to Improve Learning.) Listen fully to your students questions and answers; avoid interrupting. Resist the urge to interrupt when you think you know what the student is going to say or ask. Often, wellmeaning and enthusiastic instructors make incorrect assumptions and leave their students actual questions unanswered or misrepresent what the students had planned to say. Provide specific, encouraging, varied responses. Point out what is helpful or interesting about student contributions. Pick up on comments that were made but not discussed. Do not use the same, standard praise to respond to every comment. When students hear good point again and again, they start to lose motivation. Ask follow-up questions to prompt students to clarify, refine, and support their ideas. When a student gives an incorrect or ill-conceived answer, respond in way that challenges the student to think more deeply or to reconsider the evidence. The best way to shut down participation, and learning, is to embarrass a student. Repeat student responses to summarize or clarify ideas. Use this strategy when a students comments are vague or all over the map, but do not over-use it, leading students to rely on you to translate or validate their ideas. Redirect comments and questions to other students. Encourage students to respond to one another, rather than merely to you. When a student is speaking, look around the room, not just at the student who is speaking; making eye contact with other students lets them know that you expect them to be listening and formulating responses. Provide students with a model of civil discourse by demonstrating respect for, and interest in, the views of others. Learn to limit your own comments. Particularly when facilitating a discussion, hold back from responding to every comment; otherwise, students will learn to wait for you to respond rather than formulating their own responses. Place the emphasis on student ideas. Encourage students to share their ideas and use those ideas (with attribution) whenever you can. Referring

back to a comment made by a student in an earlier class demonstrates that you have thought about and appreciated what your students have to say. Active student participation does not happen naturally in university courses; it must be carefully planned and encouraged. Set aside time throughout the semester to assess student participation in your course and to develop strategies for improvement; administer midterm student evaluations to help you with this process. Consider asking a colleague to observe your class; often, outside observers can discern patterns that hinder participation but that may not be apparent to participants. Take notes during and after a semester so that you have a record of what went well and what you would like to change the next time you teach the course in order to increase student participation. Return to top. Links and References for Increasing Student Participation Davis, Barbara Gross. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. Questioning Strategies. Center for Teaching Excellence. University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. Encouraging Interaction in Science and Engineering Classes. The McGraw Center. Princeton University. Facilitating Discussions in Humanities and Social Science. The McGraw Center. Princeton University. McKeachie, Wilbert, et al. McKeachies Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 12th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 2009, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis Number. 26 CDTL 2003 CLASS PARTICIPATION: WHAT IF I HAVE NO QUESTIONS? Ms Chua Siew Beng Human Resource Management Specialist, School of Business

The human mind is our fundamental resource.John F. Kennedy Increasingly, classes are being conducted in small groups where plenty of opportunities are presented for class participation. Like many students, you may think that class participation is just saying something when called upon or, simply being there. However, class participation is a process where students are encouraged to be actively engaged. Active class participation includes: asking questions; value-adding and providing new insights in the form of supporting arguments, personal views, opinions and experiences; clarifying materials presented; and exploring new perspectives. In active class participation, you will need to exercise critical thinking that requires you to go beyond the basic recall of information. You need to take in information, question it, and then use it to create new ideas, solve problems, make decisions, construct arguments, make plans, and refine your view of the world.1 In contrast, to think critically on your own and keep everything to yourself is an example of passive class participation. Active class participation requires you to adopt an open mind and share what you think with your classmates. The following table illustrates three examples of active class participation: Situation The lecturer is lecturing on the importance of critical thinking. Active Participation You consider what has been presented, and note: - issue(s) which you would like to clarify further - question(s) you would like to ask - experience(s)/knowledge you possess that support/disagree with the materials presented - your personal views on the topic of discussion You volunteer to share what you have noted with the class at the appropriate time. The lecturer calls on you to respond to a question. You consider the question and: - share your answer(s)/viewpoints. - if you are unsure of what the question is asking for, seek clarifications. - even if you are unsure of the answer, you share what you think anyway so

that your lecturer and classmates can help you to resolve your doubts. You are not afraid of giving the wrong answers because active class participation does not require the right answers, but the willingness to learn through sharing of information, views and thoughts. The instructor invites anyone to contribute his views or opinions. You voluntarily share your views and opinions with the class. You offer your perspective to the issues and concerns raised by considering the: - what ifs - your prior experiences - knowledge acquired in previous lessons/courses/etc. You follow up on where your classmates have left off after he/she has spoken; you value-add, express your reservations/(dis)agreements with what has been presented, or ask questions. You seek more information or clarification by asking questions or sharing your views. The above examples are not exhaustive, but are common occurrences showing that active class participation is more than asking questions! As you step into your next class, remember that active class participation is not beyond your means: your willingness to share your knowledge with others will certainly make a big difference to the quality of your learning experience. Reference Carter, C.; Bishop, J.; & Kravits, S.L. (2002). Keys to Effective Learning (3rd ed.). Ch 4: Critical and Creative Thinking. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 94. TeachingEnglish TEACHER TALKING TIME Submitted by TE Editor on 15 August, 2007 - 13:00 The development of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) brought with it a methodology which emphasised communication in the classroom, pair and group activities and student involvement in the learning process. A consequence of this was the belief that the teachers presence in the classroom should be reduced.

Why reduce TTT? Strategies for reducing TTT Positive uses of TTT Conclusion Why reduce TTT? Many training courses based on CLT insisted that teacher talking time (TTT) was counterproductive and that teachers should reduce TTT for a number of reasons: Excessive TTT limits the amount of STT (student talking time). If the teacher talks for half the time in a 60 minute lesson with 15 students, each student gets only 2 minutes to speak. A large amount of TTT results in long stretches of time in teacher-to-class (T/class) mode and a monotonous pace. Student under-involvement inevitably leads to loss of concentration, boredom and reduced learning. TTT often means that the teacher is giving the students information that they could be finding out for themselves, such as grammar rules, the meanings of vocabulary items and corrections. Teacher explanations alone are often tedious, full of terminology and difficult to follow. There may be no indication of whether the students have understood. If the teacher takes the dominant role in classroom discourse in terms of initiating the topic, allocating turns and evaluating comments, the students role is only that of respondent. Opportunities for developing the speaking skill are therefore severely limited. If the teacher is constantly dominant and controlling, the learners take no responsibility for their own learning but learn what the teacher decides and when. Student autonomy is thus limited. STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING TTT The over-use of TTT is often the product of the under-use of communicative techniques in the classroom. Many activities do not need to be teacher led pair work (PW) or group work (GW) can be used instead. An activity might be set up in T/class mode, demonstrated in open pairs (students doing the activity across the class), and done in closed pairs (all the students working at the same time). Some mechanical activities need to be done individually (IW) but can be checked in pairs. What is most important is that activities and interaction patterns (T/class, PW, GW, IW) need to be varied. The amount of time spent in T/class mode will depend on factors such as the students and how much they know, the stage of the lesson, the time of day and what is being taught, but a useful guideline is a limit of 30% of a lesson, and no more than 10 minutes at one time. Other common strategies for reducing TTT include:

Using elicitation rather than explanation. If students are presented with clear examples and guiding questions, they often do not need to be told. This kind of guided discovery leads to better understanding and more successful learning. Organising activities as pair work also means that all the students have the chance to work on the new language. The use of body language, mime, gestures and facial expressions rather than words. The position of the teacher in the classroom can also indicate to the students what is expected of them at a particular stage of the lesson. Getting students to give feedback on tasks to each other rather than to the teacher. This is often done in pairs, but answers can also be checked against a key. Student nomination, whereby one student nominates another to answer a question, is also a useful technique. Feedback involving the teacher is therefore limited to problematic questions rather than every question in an exercise. Eliminating unnecessary TTT. Grading language is important, but over-simplification can lead to unnatural models from the teacher. Instructions should be kept simple, while explanations need to be carefully worded and repeated if necessary rather than paraphrased. Simple concept questions should be asked to check understanding. If explanations are clear and concept checking is effective, there should be no need for re-explanation or interrupting an activity to reteach or re-instruct. Tolerating silence. Inexperienced teachers in particular tend to fill silences by unnecessary talking. Silence is important not only when students are working individually, but also provides processing time between instructions, during explanations, while waiting for a student to respond, and during monitoring of activities. Prompting, providing clues and rephrasing the question are often counterproductive when the student merely needs time to answer. Positive uses of TTT In recent years, approaches other than CLT have suggested that TTT may not always be counterproductive and can be used to good effect. The teacher provides good listening practice which is not inhibited by the sound quality of a tape or CD player and which is accompanied by visual clues to aid comprehension. In a monolingual teaching context overseas, the teacher may provide a valuable source of authentic listening, exposing learners to a limited amount of new language, and roughly tuning input to assist comprehension. In some circumstances, the teacher may be the only source of models of good, natural language. Some forms of TTT are clearly beneficial: Personalised presentations. Language should be presented in context, and this can be provided by the teacher rather than through a reading or listening. Listening to the teacher talking about real issues is more motivating than listening to or reading about complete strangers talking about people, places or events which, for the students, have no personal interest. Students are also more likely to pick up knowledge which is content rather than language based by listening to the teacher introducing a topic.

Questioning. Every teacher question asked during a lesson demands a student response. Questions need not be language related, and are often the basis of brainstorming a topic with the class. Frequent questioning holds students attention and increases learner involvement in the class. Natural conversation. Conversations taking place during pair and group work are often loaded towards certain language items or based on an imposed theme. Natural conversation initiated by the teacher encourages questioning, asking for clarification, commenting and changing the subject as well as introducing functional and everyday language which is often overlooked in course materials. Chats outside the classroom are also valuable and often more memorable to students than lessons. In these circumstances, teachers should remember to continue to use graded but natural language rather than to use simplified language to ensure understanding. Anecdotes. These can be the basis of a presentation, but can also be used at the start of a lesson, rather than using a warmer activity, as a natural way of engaging the students. Anecdotes and jokes may also be used to stimulate interest during a lesson. Anecdotes do not need to be monologues, and students can be encouraged to interrupt and ask questions. Storytelling. This can be the basis of a lesson or an ongoing theme throughout a course and is as appropriate to adult classes as it is to young learners. There is a whole methodology surrounding storytelling, which is often a stimulating alternative to the use of a graded reader in the classroom.

Conclusion There are advantages and disadvantages to TTT. It is not easy to reduce TTT when talking to the students is a natural thing to do and when there is inevitably a theatrical side to language teaching. In certain cultures, there is also a tradition of chalk and talk which influences the expectations and behaviour of both teachers and students. However, bearing in mind the nature of the communicative classroom, teachers should perhaps be aware of the quality of their TTT and how it is used rather than trying to reduce it to a bare minimum.