I don’t know about you, but I’ve always preferred it when teachers I’ve had have been direct and get to the point instead of going around the houses before making a point. To me, constantly trying to get students to guess a word, meaning or form of a grammar point can be tiring – both for them and for you!
We all know that eliciting from students is good practice, but also that we should try to reduce Teacher Talk Time (TTT) and maximise Student Talk Time (STT). Eliciting can sometimes increase TTT by adding in extra layers of questions, rephrasing and exemplifying which could be eliminated if we were just more direct sometimes. Take, for example, something like the word “hackneyed” which I was teaching to a C2 class the other day. Can you imagine the amount of TTT needed to finally elicit from students what that actually means? Instead, I included the word in a list of others of varying difficulty from the textbook we are using (Proficiency Masterclass) and added definitions for learners to match up in pairs. Much more efficient in terms of TT, plus it also enabled learners to practise problem solving skills and get used to working with words of unknown meaning.
However, this doesn’t just apply to vocabulary. Grammar points are often subject to endless discovery learning-style tasks which, by the time the learners have got any idea, have taken up a huge chunk of class time. Furthermore, I find I need to clear up misunderstandings and reinforce the correct rules anyway. I’ve now taken to doing one quick reading or listening which includes the target grammar point and then simply putting an example from said text on the board and going over meaning/form/structure, before then letting learners get on with speaking tasks to manipulate the new language. Or, as in a previous post, I start with a set of speaking questions including the new structure and see what learners can do already with them before going over the grammar and switching partners to repeat the first task.
What do you think? Should I be cast out of the teaching world for questioning the idea of constant eliciting? Any other ideas welcome!