Each Teach English in Japan WELL post offers up a practical tip for honing your teaching skills and work habits that can pay big dividends with students at conversation schools.
Contrary to popular belief, Charles Dickens was not paid by the word. His books were long simply because he had something to say. And because he said it so well, the length of his works didn’t stand in the way of gaining an enduring following.
Although we as English teachers don’t get paid by the word either, you’d be forgiven for thinking that some of us are, based on the way more than a few instructors take up a significant amount of class time and oxygen with their own talking.
This is an affliction common among, though certainly not exclusive to new teachers, and becoming aware of this tendency and controlling it can play a big part in improving the quality of your teaching.
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I’m writing this specifically for those who want to teach English in Japan at an eikaiwa conversation school or in university or other classes that happen to focus on fostering the students’ speaking ability. But obviously, there are contexts where teachers are well and truly lecturers.
In a sense, teacher talking time is one of the easiest things to address or at least hone your awareness of, in that measuring how much time you spend talking is easy to do.
Simply invite someone such as a co-worker or head teacher to observe your lessons with that along with other aspects of the lesson in mind. Then have a frank discussion with them about what they saw.
I started the previous paragraph with the word ‘simply’ but of course opening yourself up to such a critique can be very intimidating. So cultivating an atmosphere of trust with others in your workplace such as teachers and head teachers are important and can pay big dividends in this sense.
As we all know, talking too much is easy to do in general, and there are various reasons for a teacher talking too much in the classroom.
A basic belief that leads to this is that teaching equals talking, that you are there to instruct, to explain. That your job is to share your knowledge and opinions. Ask yourself how well this describes your own take on teaching, and if not, try to put into words your own ideas about what role you serve.
Then there’s our fear of silence. Years ago in the states I was a radio DJ. Dead air was our nemesis. Silence was inherently bad.
Silence in the classroom isn’t necessarily so. Productive, dynamic silence can lead to new ideas and new language skills as students take the time to absorb new constructs and attempt to master them.
But often, silence during a lesson does signal something is off, and teacher talking is an all too easy way to address those moments when students stop talking because something is too hard, not engaging, or played out.
How much do you talk in an average lesson? If you don’t know, put some thought and effort into finding out.
Originally posted 2020-01-22 02:21:48.