What teacher finds himself smiling when his students are constantly talking over him? An ESL teacher, of course.
Language classrooms are the perfect environment for teachers to encourage talking in class. Keeping lectures to a minimum and challenging students to speak up and use the language they are learning are keys for a successful English instructor. It’s not because English teachers don’t have a lot to say. Quite the contrary. What is more important, though, are the advantages that students in communicative and student centered classrooms have over those in more traditional, and quieter, classrooms. When you get your students talking more than you do in class, here are some things you both can expect.
5 Student Advantages to a Noisy Classroom
Students Put Their Language Knowledge to Practical Use
Whether your students are taking English classes for business reasons, to increase educational opportunities or for personal reasons, their ultimate goal is communication. When you, the teacher, talk less and your students talk more, your students are putting their language knowledge to practical use. The more you can get your students speaking in class, the better off they will be. They will have more experience speaking and more confidence in their ability to communicate outside the classroom because they have already done it inside the classroom.
Students Get Creative with Language
When students are talking frequently in class, they will inevitably find times they do not know a specific vocabulary or grammar construction they need. But that doesn’t have to be the end of what they have to say. The more your students talk in class, the more they will find that they can get their message across even if they are missing specific knowledge in grammar and vocabulary. Students get creative with language. Anyone with this skill has an advantage in real world talk. Second language learners are bound to struggle when communicating with native speakers from time to time, and students who can be creative with the language that they do know will have an easier time getting their message across even if the grammar is imperfect when they do.
Students Help Each Other Over Language Barriers
Sometimes, students won’t be able to depend on their own creativity to get their message across, but that doesn’t mean that you, their teacher, have to run to the rescue. When your students are talking more than you are in class, communication struggles for specific students often become group challenges. You will find that your students help each other over language barriers. Students correcting students have many advantages. Students with the answers build their own confidence. Students getting help are willing to listen to their peers and feel that they can achieve the language proficiency that their classmates have reached. Helping students also remember information better because they are now teaching it. The students themselves become the authorities on correct language usage.
Students Pay More Attention
Noisy classrooms can be a challenge to manage, but there is an advantage to the teacher when students do the majority of the talking. Students pay more attention when the teacher speaks. It is difficult for anyone to pay close attention during a lecture, and a lecture in your second language can be an even tougher pill to swallow. When you do less talking and your students do more talking, they put more value on your words and know that what you say must be important when you stop them to give information in class.
Finally, getting your students talking rather than listening to long lectures enables them to engage in class to the fullest extent. When students are doing group work and talking in pairs regularly, even shy students won’t be able to sit on the sidelines for long. Everyone participates in class and makes communication happen. No one simply observes communication that is happening around them and withdraws, and that is, after all, what all teachers should strive towards.
These advantages are just a glimpse of how your students will benefit from a student centered classroom.
The more they speak, the more confident they will be when they have to communicate in real life situations. Don’t be discouraged, however, if your students are reluctant to speak up in class at first. In some cultures, the expectation is that only the teacher will speak and that the students’ only job is to listen attentively. Just take time out to explain your classroom expectations for your students as well as the cultural expectations for ESL students, and even those who want to show respect through silence will find better ways to let you know they value what you have to say.