Lecture = La La Land: Better Approaches to Teaching ESL

Universities and colleges these days are not cheap, and it pains me to remember wasting my money and falling asleep more than a few times during lectures when the teacher was talking about…. hmmm, uh, what exactly were they talking about?  

Maybe I fell asleep and didn’t remember anything because they were lecturing for the entire class and none of the students were participating.  The same holds true for teaching ESL classes.  Even though ESL classes are generally smaller than university classes, it doesn’t change the fact that students get bored when the teacher is on their high horse at the front of the room rambling on and on for hours.

In my ESL classes I try to keep to a student to teacher talking ratio of 60:40.  This is a good ratio because it keeps the students involved and it also ensures that I’m talking enough to correct mistakes and clarify questions or inconsistencies that they have.

Now when a new verb tense comes up,  perhaps I’ll talk a little more.  BUT, the students still give examples throughout the whole lesson, and once I’ve provided an explanation and questioned them to check for understanding, I’ll design activities that let them run the class and compare the new tense to other tenses they know, etc.

To keep myself straight as a teacher, I’d recommend to all ESL teachers, to stop a couple times in every class, and ask yourself if you’d be interested in this lesson if you were one of the students.  Be honest with yourself! And if the answer is no, consider changing something and cutting down your “teacher talk time.” Your students (and your voice!) will thank you for it.

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