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All Right Blog Teacher Blog
Teaching English? Here's How to Reduce TTT and Empower Your Students.
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Teaching English? Here's How to Reduce TTT and Empower Your Students.

This article offers valuable strategies for ESL teachers to reduce Teacher Talking Time (TTT) and empower their students through effective teaching techniques, allowing for a more student-centered and interactive learning environment.

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As an English teacher, you want your students to learn English and become more confident in speaking it. However, one of the biggest challenges of teaching ESL is managing teacher talking time, also known as TTT. While it's important for the teacher to instruct and guide the class, too much TTT can prevent students from speaking and inhibit their learning. In this article, we’ll discuss why TTT can be problematic and provide strategies to reduce it while empowering your students to become more engaged and proficient speakers of English.

What is TTT and why is it a problem in ESL classrooms?

Understanding TTT (Teacher Talking Time)

TTT is the amount of time the teacher spends speaking during class time.

While it's natural for the teacher to speak more than the students in the class, excessive TTT can be detrimental to students’ learning progress. It can inhibit their speaking skills and reduce engagement. Many ESL teachers are trained to make lesson plans and provide sources of information on a specific topic, but not necessarily to manage classroom time and reduce excessive TTT.

Why too much TTT can negatively impact students

The more the teacher talks, the less opportunity students get to practice. 

In an ESL classroom, students need time to think about the language, form sentences, and then speak. However, when the teacher speaks too much, there is less time for students to think and less time for students to speak. This can create a negative environment, where students can become afraid to speak and feel that their efforts won't make a difference in class.

Importance of balancing TTT and STT (Student Talking Time)

It's important to find the right balance between TTT and STT in the class, which means finding ways to encourage students to speak and providing them with opportunities to do so. Encouraging STT means giving your students time to think, and time to practice communicating in English with their peers without worrying about being corrected.

How to manage TTT in your lesson plan

Setting goals for TTT and STT

One of the best strategies to reduce TTT is to set class goals

As a teacher, set a specific amount of time you will speak during the lesson and how much time you will give your students to speak. You may also want to give your students feedback on their speaking skills and provide them with opportunities to self-evaluate their progress.

Various techniques to reduce TTT, such as using shorter sentences

  • One way to reduce TTT is to use shorter sentences or asking more questions. 
  • This can allow your students to participate more, and engage in a dialogue with their peers. 
  • Additionally, speaking in a slower pace or breaking down your ideas into small pieces of information can help your students to follow the conversation and not feel overwhelmed.

Encouraging student participation to increase STT

Encouraging student participation is a way to encourage STT. Engage your students in activities such as role-play, debates, or presentations, which require them to speak and practice their speaking skills. Setting up smaller group activities can also increase the students' participation and allow them to provide their own input on topics discussed in class.

Strategies to increase student interaction

Organizing activities in smaller groups

Organizing activities in smaller groups can encourage students to think critically, participate, and make mistakes without fear of judgment. Pairing up students or group activities help students build confidence and communicate in a less intimidating environment. This makes them more willing to speak and practice their speaking skills.

Incorporating conversation activities

Incorporating conversation activities, such as “Find Someone Who” or “Role-plays,” can be a fun and engaging way to get students talking in class. They allow students to apply their language skills to a real-life setting and practice their speaking in a lower-pressure environment. This also allows teachers to assess the students' language skills and help build their confidence in speaking.

Teaching grammar through interactive methods

Teaching grammar through interactive methods such as games, role-plays, and problem-solving activities, can engage students in learning grammar. This can be a more entertaining way to teach the language and can help students’ understanding with ongoing conversations by focusing more on using the English language than the rules themselves.

The role of body language and facial expressions in reducing TTT

Using body language to facilitate communication

Body language, such as eye contact, nodding, or using non-verbal cues, can assist in communication when students need any explanation on concepts. This helps to clarify the lesson without the teacher speaking too much. It lets students know they are being heard, and also prompts students to communicate what they need more effectively.

Facial expressions that encourage student participation

Facial expressions, such as smiling and nodding, can lighten the atmosphere and put students at ease while in class. Friendly and engaging behaviour will help put students more readily at ease and encourage them to communicate more effectively.

Minimizing TTT through non-verbal cues

Non-verbal cues, such as gesturing, pointing or signaling, can also reduce TTT and get the message across. These can be particularly useful in larger classes where the teacher needs to indicate an action without talking too much, allowing students to figure out what to do. This keeps the communication flowing and helps with engagement.

Tips for giving instructions and correcting mistakes while minimizing TTT

Asking students to repeat instructions to confirm understanding

Asking students to repeat back the instructions provided in class can confirm whether the instructions are fully understood by the entire class. This reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding and erases the need for the teacher to repeat instructions multiple times.

Teaching vocabulary in context to reduce TTT

Teaching vocabulary in the context of a conversation or activity, as opposed to explaining definitions, enables students to learn vocabulary and activate the language rather than memorizing individual words. This also provides opportunities for spoken practice and measurable progress.

Correcting mistakes through student feedback instead of lecturing

Correcting mistakes via feedback instead of lecturing can reduce the teacher talking time in class, and also think of mistakes as opportunities for students to learn. This also allows the teacher to give the student some independence to discover their mistakes and correct them privately, instead of in front of the class which can sometimes be intimidating for ESL students.


Minimizing TTT in ESL classrooms can be challenging, but it is possible with the right techniques and strategies in place. Fewer teacher talking time means more student talking time, and more speaking opportunities can lead to more engaged and confident students who are willing to participate. Teachers need to find the right balance and provide a more supportive and comfortable learning environment for their ESL students. If you’re an English teacher or interested in becoming one, keep these tips in mind to help empower your students to become proficient English speakers while also minimizing your TTT. 

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