Five Ways to Reduce Teacher Talk

I think a lot about “teacher talk” or “teacher talking time” (TTT).

My enjoyment of communicating with people is both what initially drew me to teaching and my weakest point as a teacher. I could just go on and on forever.

It would certainly be ironic for me to write a 5,000 word narrative on this topic.

In lieu of that, here are five thoughts for creating and reviewing my lesson plans to limit teacher talk (aka “The Emily Show”):

  • 3223877562_5256b1806cThink preschool, not 12th grade. Not in terms of difficulty or nap time, but in terms of a student-centered approach. A pre-K teacher does not go on and on, and those students are busy.
  • Think percentage. Is it reasonable for students to listen to me talk for literally 80% of their class time? What about 50%? 20%? 0%?
  • Think opportunity cost. Every minute I spend talking to the class is a minute the students are not practicing generating or reading English. Listening is important! But so are grammar, vocabulary, speaking, writing, reading, and conversation. And, you know, plain old thinking. Is what I’m saying worth it?
  • 15028041122_e703888842Think burden. My TTT feels easy to me, but it wears my students down. Paying attention to a lecture (or tangent) for more than eight minutes at a time is heavy and tiring for most students.
  • Think ahead. For us chatterboxes, teacher talk has to be a big consideration in our lesson planning, in how we field questions during class, and in our classroom routines.


Photo Credit 1: GoonSquadSarah on Flickr
Photo Credit 2: Nancy <I’m gonna SNAP! on Flickr

You’re reading Five Ways to Reduce Teacher Talk, originally posted at

2 thoughts on “Five Ways to Reduce Teacher Talk

  1. I do this too often. I teach elementary ESL, and I want my students to talk more frequently, but some are quite shy, or they lack the vocabulary skills to share their ideas.

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