How to prevent a sore throat

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Teaching can be physically demanding, especially if you are doing a lot of hours each day.

One of my first teaching mentors made it his ambition to reduce his Teacher Talking Time (TTT) to a minimum. I was amazed as I watched him get through a whole lesson (with 50 students) without having said very much at all.

His secret was to get his students to do as much speaking as possible, after all that was what they wanted to learn most. He did this by training his students to ask questions of each other and to extend these questions when visually (not verbally) prompted. The result was incredibly low TTT.

In a homestay situation it is a little different and the teacher cannot ‘escape from the action’ as easily. However, because home tuition can be very intense it is perhaps even more important to adopt methods that reduce your verbal input and maximise the student’s.

A target would be 20% TTT for fluency lessons and no more than 40% for other kinds that involve more teacher explanation. One example of how to do this is to use your hands and fingers rather than verbal instruction. Another is to ensure you always include plenty of ‘freer practice’ in your lessons, where your student can express their own opinions.

Reducing TTT is also about not being afraid of silences. If there is a silence, as you wait for your student to respond, try not to jump in and repeat your question, or worse answer it yourself! Most people need a little time to compose a reply, especially in a foreign language.

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