The 80-20 Rule Re-Visited: Teacher Talking Time (TTT) #ELTchat

Sleeping in Class (Credit: Solangel)

This week I participated in the #ELTchat session called “Effective ways to minimize TTT (Teacher Talking Time) and maximize STT (Student Talking Time)”. It moved fast, with the tweets flying fast and furious. I relied on my usual coping strategy of following the moderators as they guided the session. I was retweeting (RT) comments and remarks that struck me as worthy of repeating.

All the while I was thinking to myself: “Isn’t there a rule of thumb that teachers are supposed to speak something like a ratio of 20:80? Don’t we call this the 80/20 Rule?” From someplace, somewhere, somehow – that number is hardwired into my brain.

“Who is responsible for that?”, I wondered. Jeremy Harmer? Scott Thornbury? Penny Ur? Lindsay Clandfield? Hugh Dellar? Jim Scrivener? Shelly Terrell? Marisa Constantinides? My CELTA teacher (what was her name?) (I remember: Lise Bell, what a great teacher she was.) My DELTA teacher? (Christine Ng, also a superb teacher)

I got up and looked at the numerous “How to Teach” books on my bookshelf by these and many more authors. No, no, and yet no again.

I couldn’t find a specific mention of an 80-20 rule. So I thought, “That’s strange. There’s something hardwired in my brain, and it’s apparently something that no one has written about at any length. At least, not in ELT.”

Well here’s a question: How do you know when you’re talking too much? I turned to Ferris Buehler for help in answering this question.

See you after the video for “Part Two: The 80-20 Rule Re-Visited”…

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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