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Creating an environment where learners are no longer dependent on the teacher is the main reflection of a learner centered classroom. In a language learning classroom, students learn the skills to read, write, listen and speak. The best way to learn and teach a foreign language is to use that language. The purpose of communicative language teaching approach is to communicate in the target language or to use it in communication. In the communication, there must be interaction between teacher and student or student and student. According to my colleagues and my experience, though the door for classroom interaction is very open students' participation is very poor in some classes. This paper attempts to test this hypothesis and provides some systematically tested ways to increase the amount of Student Talk Time (STT) which leads to a learner centered approach.
Ms. M.I.F.Kareema
Lecturer in English
English Language Teaching Unit
Creating an environment where learners are no longer dependent on the teacher is the main
reflection of a learner centered classroom. In a language learning classroom, students learn
the skills to read, write, listen and speak. The best way to learn and teach a foreign language
is to use that language. The purpose of communicative language teaching approach is to
communicate in the target language or to use it in communication. In the communication,
there must be interaction between teacher and student or student and student. According to
my colleagues and my experience, though the door for classroom interaction is very open
students' participation is very poor in some classes. This paper attempts to test this hypothesis
and provides some systematically tested ways to increase the amount of Student Talk Time
(STT) which leads to a learner centered approach.
Key words: teacher talk time, learner centered classroom, communicative approach
It is often discussed that both teachers and students should participate actively in language
classes. Especially, in communicative EFL classes, students need ample opportunity to
practice the target language so that the teacher should reduce the amount of their talk.
Researching on the student and teacher talk time always produce new approach and insides to
teach a language. Most teachers believe that the students have to receive as much opportunity
to speak as is possible when learning English as a target language. This idea is especially true
in the EFL classroom, where students don't live in an English-speaking country. In such
cases, the students may only have the chance to practice English as a conversational tool
during the lesson. But whatever the situation, it is true the more students speak in English, the
better English speakers they become.
Purpose of the Study
A language teacher must design her/his lessons to make participation of all most all the
students in a classroom so his/her lesson plan has to include a certain percentage for teacher
talk time (TTT) and student talk time (STT) to teach each skill. In a learner centered
classroom, TTT must not exceed the expected percentage. In some cases student involvement
is not very privileged. So that, though they have more knowledge in structure they are unable
to apply that in the real communication. Whether it is oral or written, communication is the
main target of a language. This study tests the hypothesis that the students' participation is
poor and collects students' attitudes towards increasing student talk time. Further, it intends to
bring together their views regarding classroom interaction methods.
Limitations of the Study
This study was conducted among the students of Faculty of Arts and Culture. According to
the common view of the teaching faculty of the first year Arts students, those students who
are divided into ten ability groups are very much forward and coorporative not only in
elicitation but also in doing spoken activities. But the condition with other faculty students is
questionable. I hope further research must be carried out comparing the percentage of student
talk time of different faculty students to examine this situation.
Benefits resulting from the study
The analysis of the research shows that students have positive attitudes towards increasing
STT which leads to a learner centered approach that most of the educators welcome. So the
findings of the study open a new path to the curriculum designers, material producers, lesson
planners, language trainers and teachers to integrate more STT in their lesson planning. This
sort of research can inspire other language teachers to conduct research in their classrooms
because it is considered to be an important tool for professional development. Contrary to
what had been hypothesized, this research has revealed the positive attitudes of the learners
towards increasing the amount of STT.
Literature Review
Teacher talk time (TTT) refers to how much the teacher talks during a lesson. However, this
will vary according to the stage of the lesson. For example, the teacher needs to speak more
when starting a new lesson. When he continues the same lesson next time he may speak less
as students need ample opportunity to practice the new material. In a common view, the
teacher must roughly limit his speaking to 20% to 30% of the class time allowing the students
to make use of the language.
Allwright (1982, p. 10) said that teachers who ‘work’ too much in the classroom were not
teaching successfully. He mentioned that a good language teacher is able to ‘get students to
do more work’ in the classroom. Nunan, (1999, p. 209) also indicated that continuous teacher
talk during the lessons did not develop studentslistening comprehension and communication
skills. Nunan (2003, p. 55) proves the earlier fact, mentioning that “Research has repeatedly
demonstrated that teachers do approximately 50 to 80 percent of the talking in classrooms.”
As far as a learner centered classroom concerned, to practice the target language Student
Talk Time (STT) be supposed to be around 80% during the course of the lesson (Nunan,
1991). Consequently, it is needed to incorporate the learner centered approach into the
existing curricula in all disciplines not only in the international level but also in local context.
In a foreign or second language classroom, for instance a teacher introduces a new lesson
(even to make it more learner centered classroom teacher can give students the choice of
selecting what they are going to learn) such as talking about the daily routine. To introduce
the new vocabulary connected with the routine first teacher can elicit the vocabulary from the
students then the teacher will focus on the form of making sentences with present simple
tense in affirmation and negation.
To introduce a new grammar lesson teacher can spend 60 to 80 teacher talk time, whereas the
next day she/he can get practice with the students to talk about their daily routine. This time,
more than 60 to 80 percentages of talk would be done by students. It is reasonable for a
teacher to allocate a different percentage of time to teach grammar, vocabulary, reading,
spoken and listening activities. Nunan highlights it mentioning, “Of course, whether or not
it is considered a good thing for teachers to spend 70 or 80 percent of class time talking will
depend on the objectives of a lesson and where it fits into the overall scheme of the course or
programme" (Nunan, 1991, p. 190).
It is notable to consider about what Nilton (2011) discusses regarding Nunan’s suggestion is
very much suitable to present here. He explains that if the focus of the lesson is not
conversational for example the lesson is to write an essay or description, a student may
expect a period of TTT to lecture on the processes involved in the construction of a
paragraph, then they will follow a silent period to employ the techniques they have learnt to
construct a composition production.
Nilton (2011) accepts that though he practices 60 to 80 percentages or 40 to 60 percentages of
teacher talk time (TTT) respectively, for elementary and intermediate levels when he teaches
oral communication, these figures are beyond the adequate level TTT.
If there is more talk by the teacher, students become passive and their involvement in the
classroom participation would be very less. This is what was experienced in the traditional
chalk and talk method.
Students’ use of the language must be further promoted for a high range of qualitative
thought once they become capable to respond/ communicate in simple necessary discussions.
They have to be able to communicate, critically observe, analyze, and practice with the new
language in a successful learning environment.
Much research on TTT has focused on its quantity (amount) and/or quality (effectiveness).
These studies have provided new insights into the ways EFL/ESL teachers teach in the
Learner Centered Approach
In the current era, the term 'learning' leads the term 'teaching'. It is not teaching a language
alone it depends on learning and learning. That is why to increase the learning environment,
learner centered approach (LCA) is needed to imply in learning and teaching a new language.
In a teacher centered classroom, teachers are working more. They ask the questions, they call
on students, they add detail to their answers. They offer the examples. They organize the
content. They do the preview and the review. On any given day, in most classes, teachers are
working much harder than students. Therefore, it is observable that students develop
sophisticated learning skills without the chance to practice and in most classrooms the teacher
gets far more practice than the students. However, LCA engages students in the hard, messy
work of learning.
Again, it includes explicit skill instruction. In an LCA environment, students are taught how
to think, solve problems, evaluate evidence, analyze arguments and generate hypotheses
which all these learning skills are essential to be familiar in a discipline. LCA encourages
students to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it. Further, it motivates
students by giving them some control over learning processes. Research proves that students
can learn from and with each other in collaboration in a classroom. Teachers experienced in
LCA works to develop structures that promote shared commitments to learning. They see
learning individually and collectively as the most important goal of any educational
Understanding LCA will help to identify the area of the current study that a learner-centered
approach involves less teacher talk and more opportunity for students to speak in the L2
classroom. The following trends in LCA elaborate that the amount of teacher talk and student
talk time plays a key role in determining whether or not one's teaching methodology is in
track with an LCA.
The best way to make students’ participation is elicitation in the classroom in a learner
centered approach lesson. Language learning is not like listening to a constant lecture they
have to involve in the classroom further students have inborn ability to acquire a language.
They have knowledge and experiences of life and language which can contribute greatly to
the learning process. When introducing a new structure, it is very important to elicit answers
from the students rather than pouring knowledge. Rutherford's explanation supports the same
idea that the more learners contribute in the L2 classroom, the more they are likely to learn
(Rutherford, 1987, p. 7). So, teachers must never underestimate the ability of their students.
Through a lively discussion with the students the teacher will introduce a lesson appreciating
their ability and correcting their erroneous understanding. According to the answers given to
the 10th question of the survey, 40 students accepted that through open ended teacher
questioning they can improve their communicative skill while 28 students chose that they can
improve it through closed ended teacher questioning.
The focus of an LCA lesson is about learners' experience and interests. Therefore, when
selecting a topic for a discussion, it must be according to the studentsinterest. Nunan (1989)
explains the same like if, however, teachers use the course book as an aid in the completion
of tasks related to the students' areas of interest and experience, the students are more likely
to become involved in the lesson, thereby learning more (Nunan, 1989).
In learning a second language or a foreign language, paying much attention to the correctness
ought to be avoided. Because in a learner centered approach, communication is the prime
source not the accuracy. If a teacher constantly corrects the mistakes, then the students will
not be able to open their mouth further. Hence, the attempts of the students will be stopped. A
good teacher will not interrupt the students when they are practicing, it is better to take a note
on the mistakes of the whole class and give feedback correcting them without pointing out
the particular student who made the mistakes at the end of the session. The above mentioned
principles portray the process of learner centered approach.
To have a survey a questionnaire was distributed among fifty first year students of the
Faculty of Arts and Culture who are following the second semester for the academic year
2011/2012. The models were selected among four hundred students consisting of both gender
and multi ethnics. They are mixed ability students whose results in the last English Language
examination have varieties of grades like A, B, C and D. They are in their early twenties.
They were free to answer the questions. Though the students are unaware of the terms TTT
and STT through the simple questions asked in the questionnaire they were able to answer
them very easily.
Analysis of the data
Thirty students; among those who have A+, A or A- grades like to improve their spoken skill
while twenty-six students want to improve their writing skill and grammar. Ten students want
to improve only grammar. Those who want to improve grammar or writing have lower grades
in English language in the semester end examination.
For the third question “Do you like to talk in the English language classroom?” beside one,
forty- nine students it means 98% of the students like to talk. It shows a very positive attitude
of the students towards STT. Next question requires the reason being fond of talking. The
following chart explains their needs to talk clearly.
(Figure 1- Reasons for why students need to speak in English)
As the figure one shows 50% of the students like to talk in the classroom as they can improve
their spoken skill and get fluency in a second language. They like to talk with peers and the
teacher some students hesitate to talk to the teacher.
(Figure 2- Students' attitudes towards interaction among peers and teacher)
Again, figure two shows a positive attitude of students towards increasing interaction in the
classroom. 46% of students like to interact both with teachers and their friends. 31% want to
speaking and
To use the
as it is
To avoid fear
To correct the
to get
prestige 4%
No answer
Q4: Why do students want to speak in English
and peers
talk only among peers. They might be afraid of making mistakes in front of the teacher,
getting a low grade, appearing stupid, did not do homework or do not know the correct
answer. A few of them suggested having functions where students would be able to show
their talents on stage.
Thirty-nine students responded that lecturers very often or often or sometimes give the
opportunity to interact in the classroom while only one student responded that they never
give chances. The above situation again elaborates that students also like to interact in the
classroom, even the teacher encourages them to use it. Therefore, the motivation to have an
interactive lesson is welcomed by both student and teacher. For the eleventh question “How
effective is teacher student interaction in your ESL classroom?” 58% and 40% of the
students expressed that it is very good and good respectively while only 2% of them
commented that it is fair. As a whole we can come to a conclusion that students have a
positive attitude towards increasing STT and they like to have a more learner centered
approach in language acquisition with the support of their teachers.
Language acquisition includes skills like listening, speaking, reading and writing if a learner
wants to get familiar with a foreign or second language he must be good at all these skills. So
far in the Sri Lankan education system only the writing and reading skills are tested in the
G.C.E. Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. The government is incoorporating
spoken activities in the text books and they are going to test it in the G. C.E. Ordinary Level
in 2015 providing fifteen marks for oral. Therefore, many students not only from the Faculty
of Arts and Culture but also from other faculties face problems in speaking. Though they
scored good performance in structured grammar questions they score less marks in
communicative based questions. As they have been trained to pass the written examination in
the general examinations, they face many challenges in acquiring fluency in spoken.
University students become more aware to enhance their spoken ability. They know even
though they get degrees in Tamil medium, they have to face any sort of interviews in English.
As their responses to the fourth questions suggest, they like to use the opportunity to talk in
English in English language teaching classrooms besides which they do not have chances to
talk outside. In Sri Lanka despite the fact that English is considered as a second language the
environment is limited only to the classroom. Therefore, many of the students prefer to
exploit the opportunity in the ESL classroom fruitfully. So the need for concentrating on
spoken variety is very important.
There are five important principles for teaching speaking. The first is to manage the
classroom where all students want to participate reducing TTT and increasing STT. Then the
learners' participation must be high. The third is to provide communication opportunities with
a variety of activities. Then let them talk what they want to talk about. Then encourage them
to use their second language outside the classroom. Finally, give appropriate feedback
(Nunan, 2003).
Several speaking activities were introduced by scholars like Ur (2005), Harmer (2012) and
Nunan (2003); among them this research highlights Ur's interaction patterns such as group
work, pair work, individual work, closed-ended teacher questioning (IRF) open-ended
teacher questioning, choral responses, collaboration, student initiates teacher answers, full-
class interaction and self access. Further knee to knee conversation, face to face variation,
tiny talks, show and tell the inventors' seminar, twenty questions, picture cards, acting from a
script, play-scripts, acting out dialogues, communication games, prepared talk,
questionnaires, role-play and Carol's quick quest are some other practices (Harmer, 2012).
The survey suggests that many students prefer to have much interaction in the classroom and
they advocate it is very effective. As the current trend in education acknowledge learner
centered approach, it is enhanced to increase the student talk time seeing that, it allows the
teacher to restrict his speaking to vital areas of the lesson and students to speak more.
Therefore, the students have more chances to experiment with and personalize the language
and to rely on their skills. Further, they have added opportunity for interest and challenge. For
that reason it is clear that the class greatly benefits from limited talking by the teacher.
Implying the activities recommended by the language scholars will facilitate to increase the
student talk time.
Allwright, R. L. (1982). What do we want teaching materials for?’ ELT Journal. 36/1: 5-18.
Carol, M. (2014) Teaching Speaking. From an unpublished module from a Teacher Training
workshop held at ELTU of SEUSL on date 29.04.2014
Harmer, J.(2012). The Practice of English Language Teaching. China: Pearson.
Nilton, H. (2011). Teacher Talking Time in the EFL Classroom. Retrieved on 20, May,2013
Nunan, D. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Nunan, D. (1991). Language teaching methodology: A textbook for teachers. Hemel
Hempstead: Prentice Hall International.
Nunan, D. (1999). Second Language Teaching and Learning. Heinle and Heinle.
Nunan, D. (2003). Practical English Language Teaching. McGraw-Hill.
Rutherford, W.E. (1987). Second language grammar: Learning and teaching. New York:
Ur,P. (2005). A Course in Language Teaching. India: Cambridge University Press.
... Most of the researchers are of the view that it should be 70% by the students and 30% involvement by the teachers.These researches lead to the result that there exists an imbalance in teacher talk time (TTT) and students talk time (STT). Nunan (2003), has proved that teachers' talk time exceeds to 50%and sometimes to 80% and that should be the percentage for students.With regards to the point that teacher use more talk time in class, Kareema (2014), also propounded that teacher talk time in a classroom should be reduced as most of the teachers exceed their percentage of talking time in the class and student talk time should be increased because students need more opportunities to learn and practice target language. ...
... The role of teacher has been shifted from a central or the most dominant figure or controller to the facilitator and manager of the classroom interactions. This shift of role explains the change in approach that the present time is not the time of 'teaching' but of 'learning' as Kareema (2014) suggested in her study. The same notion of role shift was presented earlier by Nunan (1989) and Allwright (1982). ...
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INTRODUCTION English language Teachers are bound to talk in class but at the same time they must avoid imbalance in TTT (teacher talk time) and STT (student talk time). Effective English language classrooms are more learner-centered and less teacher-centered. In Pakistani ESL classrooms pedagogical paradigm shift is significant from chalk and talk method to talk and let talk method. The more teachers talk, the more student become silent and passive. The same shift can be applied by shifting TCA (teacher-centered approach) to LCA (learner-centered approach). The observation, personal experiences and feedback of colleagues and students lead the researcher to opine that Pakistani English language classroom are frequently teacher talk time (TTT) dominated with minimum and often no student talk time (STT). Many experienced and young English teachers consider good teaching and learning to rely on more TTT and less STT. Practically speaking, this is a misleading approach. It is paradox to keep student silent in a language classroom and expect quality learning. In fact, it is denying them free and relaxed learning and performance environment. Making teaching one way process is destructive for learners. It is never effective and productive approach. The major argument to cut down TTT and add more STT in English language classrooms is speaking denied is learning denied. It is observed that more TTT and less STT results in monotony, boredom and low or no motivation, participation, interesting and learning. A comparative analysis of TCA and LCA English language classes prove and establish the point that learners can speak, share and express them in classroom therefore; they must be offered and given several such opportunities in class interaction. What if they are not correct and exact, even then correction and learning can occur. One of the advantages of more space for STT is that this approach certainly saves teachers from over-burdening and overloading them with overdoing and overwork. Many studiesconducted in this domain give quantitative data by telling that TTT and STT should be 30%/70% or 20%/80% or even 40%/60%. All these percentages reflect that TTT must be less than STT. The Rationale of the study / Background Teacher-centered classroom are regarded less effective and less productive whereas student-centered classrooms are more effective and more productive. Effective teaching practices demand teachers to reduce teacher talk time and increase student talk time. This study aims to explore the hypothesis that student participation, motivation and learning result from more student talk time and less teacher talk time. Objectives of the Study 1. To explore teacher talk time percentage of intermediate English language classrooms. 2. To trace teacher student time frequency in intermediate English language classrooms.
... Hence, this study aimed to investigate the TT quality in a Pakistani language classroom and considered the functional features only. Research (Berlin, 2015;Boyd, 2015;Cook, 2016;Davies, 2011;Kareema, 2014;Lindholm-Leary, 2001;Paul, 2003;Yanfen & Yuqin, 2010) has already been conducted to explore TT features, talk turns Formerly The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning (between teachers and students) as well as what language the teachers use to manage the class. This study is an addition to these studies and aims to explore functional features of TT (quality, quantity), teacher questions, feedback and what language the teacher uses to manage the class, which no previous study has so far explored. ...
... TT amount means the quantity of TT in a classroom. In simple words, TT amount means how much the teachers talk while instructing in the classroom (Kareema, 2014). Nunan (1991) believes that teachers by far do the most talking in the classroom. ...
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... With this, the teacher is conditioned to talk less, and students talk more and have more time to practice speaking in the target language. It is essential since one crucial component of many modern ways of teaching is to lessen the amount of teacher talking time (TTT) as much as possible, to provide learners more opportunities to use the language (Kareema, 2014). Teachers need to reduce TTT for several reasons. ...
... Student autonomy is thus restricted. In short, too much TTT is not suitable for students in this era, the millennials (Kareema, 2014). ...
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... In addition, Kareema (2014) has proved that students can work collaboratively with their peers in a classroom. Therefore, systems that promote shared commitments to learning should be developed as learning individually and collectively is a very important educational experience. ...
... In other words, lecturers should reduce their Talking Time. Feedback and a note on mistakes should be given to the whole class without pointing out to individual students as it will discourage them from using the language communicatively (Kareema, 2014). ...
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... description/essay writing, the learners may expect a TTT period providing instructions on paragraph construction process followed by a silent period to utilize those instructions for essay writing. Nilton (in Kareema, 2014) adds that he utilizes 40-60 percent TTT for elementary and 60-80 percent TTT for intermediate level learners for oral communication classes. Nilton (in Kareema, 2014) regards these figures beyond adequate level. ...
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The debate has recently centred on the amount of time that students and teachers should spend talking in the EFL classrooms. The present study aims to investigate the amount and functions of the Teacher Talking Time (TTT) versus the amount of Students Talking Time (STT) in EFL undergraduate classrooms at the Faculty of Arts, Asmarya Islamic University (AIU) in Libya. It also aims to identify the students' perceptions of the teachers' role in this concern. Six classes of different subjects were audio-recorded to measure the amount of the TTT vs. the amount of STT in the class and identify the potential TTT and STT functions. Twelve randomly-chosen students were interviewed to uncover the students' attitudes toward the efforts made by the teachers to increase the STT and decrease the TTT in the classroom. The results revealed that the TTT dominates the EFL classroom interaction. The findings showed that the Nature of the Subject, the Personality of the Teacher and Classroom Environment are the most common factors that influenced the amount of TTT vs. STT in the EFL classroom. Keywords: Teacher Talking Time (TTT), Students Talking Time (STT), EFL classroom. Classroom Interaction.
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El siguiente trabajo presenta un estudio de caso sobre la enseñanza del español en la secundaria francesa. En este estudio participaron 43 profesores de español de los cuales 5 son también formadores. A través de ellos, encuestamos a 296 estudiantes. La problemática abordada fue ¿Cuál es la presencia y el rol del francés en la enseñanza del español en la secundaria francesa? Para responder a la pregunta dividimos el trabajo en cuatro partes: Primero, hicimos una revisión bibliográfica de lo que se ha dicho respecto a la utilización de la L1 en el aula de L2/LE. Segundo, describimos el contexto de enseñanza del español en Francia. Tercero, presentamos el estudio de caso, la metodología y sus etapas. Finalmente, analizamos los datos recogidos. Este trabajo tiene como objetivo proponer un espacio de reflexión sobre la enseñanza del español, principalmente sobre la presencia y el rol que tiene el francés actualmente en la clase de ELE.
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Positive psychology is a rapidly expanding subfield in psychology that has important implications for the field of second language acquisition (SLA). This paper introduces positive psychology to the study of language by describing its key tenets. The potential contributions of positive psychology are contextualized with reference to prior work, including the humanistic movement in language teaching, models of motivation, the concept of an affective filter, studies of the good language learner, and the concepts related to the self. There are reasons for both encouragement and caution as studies inspired by positive psychology are undertaken. Papers in this special issue of SSLLT cover a range of quantitative and qualitative methods with implications for theory, research, and teaching practice. The special issue serves as a springboard for future research in SLA under the umbrella of positive psychology.
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Classroom Research may be simply defined as ongoing and cumulative intellectual inquiry by classroom teachers into the nature of teaching and learning in their own classrooms (Cross and Steadman, 1996, p.2). This paper reports on a piece of classroom research, aiming to support the hypothesis that most of the talk in my English-as-a-foreign-language elementary and intermediate classrooms was done by the teacher, presumably implying a more teacher-centred approach. In terms of the percentage of teacher talk, the results indicate that the discrepancy between the amount of teacher talk actually done in these classrooms and that which was hypothesized as being in conflict with a learner-centred approach was notably high. This appears to imply that, although I talked more than the learners on some occasions, my lessons were much more focused on them rather than on me, the teacher.
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The question ‘What do we want teaching materials for?’ is premature until we establish what there is to be done in teaching and who should do it. Starting with a unified conception of language teaching and learning as ‘the management of language learning’, this paper proposes a management analysis which establishes a necessarity limited role for teaching materials, given the great complexity of the management problem revealed by the analysis. This leads to a diagnosis of teacher ‘overload’ and learner ‘underinvolvement’. (Traing is probably necessary if learners are to become productively involved in managing their learning.) ‘Learner-training’ has further implications for course design and for teacher-training, and raises the question of how teachers can best put their expertise at the disposal of ‘trained’ learners. Returning to materials, the paper then makes specific suggestions in support of a switch of emphasis from ‘teaching’ materials to ‘learning’ materials. Finally the conclusion is drewn that questions of materials should generally be related to the conception of the conception of the whole of language teaching and learning as the co–operative management of language learning.
Teaching Speaking. From an unpublished module from a Teacher Training workshop held at ELTU of SEUSL on date 29
  • M Carol
Carol, M. (2014) Teaching Speaking. From an unpublished module from a Teacher Training workshop held at ELTU of SEUSL on date 29.04.2014
Language teaching methodology: A textbook for teachers
  • D Nunan
Nunan, D. (1991). Language teaching methodology: A textbook for teachers. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall International.
Practical English Language Teaching
  • D Nunan
Nunan, D. (2003). Practical English Language Teaching. McGraw-Hill.