When talking with administrators, it is important to explain why ESL classrooms have more teacher talk than mainstream classes. Teacher talk is an important source of comprehensible input for language learners (Krashen, 1982, 59). The majority of English Language Learners report that teacher talk with enhanced visual clues, body language, and simplified speech helps them understand and feel engaged (Matsumoto).
Many native speakers or advanced ELLs are ready for “student talk” and may choose to speak spontaneously. Forcing student talk, however, may raise the affective filter.
Proponents of forced student talk argue “Talk plays a noticing role; it triggers a consciousness-raising function” (Boyd, 448). However, language practice and noticing promotes conscious learning, not unconscious acquisition (Truscott; Krashen 2004, 1982). Student talk is the result, not cause of comprehensible input. Autonomous, student-initiated responses will happen if students receive enough comprehensible input (Krashen 2004, 1982).
Boyd, M. & Reuben, D. (May 2002). Elaborated Student Talk in an Elementary ESOL Classroom. Research in the Teaching of English, 36(4): 495-530.
Gharbavi, A. & Iravani, H. (May 2014). Is Teacher Talk Pernicious to Students? A Discourse Analysis of Teacher Talk. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98: 552 – 561.
Krashen, S. (2004) The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.
Long, M. H. (1983). Linguistic and conversational adjustments to non-native speakers. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 5(2): 177-193.
Matsumoto, H. (2010). Students’ Perceptions About Teacher Talk In Japanese-as-a-Second-Language Classes. Arizona Working Papers in SLA & Teaching, 17: 53-74.
Truscott, J. (1998). Noticing in second language acquisition: a critical review. Second language Research, 14(2), 103-135.