The Non Native Speaker

Empowering Non-Native Speakers around the Globe

If you find your students blankly staring at you while you go on and on for the sake of comprehensible input or filling those uncomfortable silences. Here are some Tips & Tricks you might find useful for your next lesson so that you can start reducing TTT.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Ask Open Ended Questions

Do you think so?

What do you think about it? How come?

Don’t ask any questions to which one might reply, “Yes, I do”, or “No, I don’t”. Give your students the right amount of opportunity to take longer and freer turns. While they are putting their thoughts together and formulating sentences, you might want to take down some notes on how they are performing and later tackle students’ weaker areas. However, please remember to engage in the conversation as naturally as possible. Not as their teacher, but as a good listener. Feedback can come later.

Get into the habit of making things more personal (make it more about them)

Tell me about your day/week/plans for the weekend

Had a bad day? What made it bad? Tell me about it

By starting conversation on a personal note, you can take time to assess accuracy and fluency issues, while learning about your students’ English proficiency. Yes, you might have the perfect lesson for teaching the Present Perfect ready to go, but if you don’t connect with your students on a deeper and personal level, your role can become interchangeable with that of any other teacher. Give your students TIME and allow for them to share their experiences, just like they would in their L1 before starting any planned activity for the day. This can also give you a lot of insight on what to teach in your next lesson.

Use Back Channeling to keep conversation going on the student’s end

Oh, Really?

You’re kidding!

Most students don’t realise how to use back channeling in the appropriate way, simply because they are not involved in authentic conversations with English speakers on a daily basis. This is your chance to both use it to reduce Teacher Talk Time AND allow them to notice this strategic tool they can use for more natural sounding conversation. Your intonation here plays an important part in keeping the conversation tone authentic. Remember you are not acting, you are engaging with your students.

Leave a comment with what works best for you to reduce Teacher Talk Time.

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