In Language Teaching, Silence Is Golden!

Using silence as a technique for improving student communication and language development has always been important in second language acquisition.  Too many of us get nervous when our students stop speaking, and we jump in to fill in their blanks or to give them ideas to “energize” their train of thought.  Or, we allow other students to “help” their classmates by finishing their answers for them.  All of this does more harm than good; it creates too much “noise” to allow our pensive students to formulate their thoughts.  We have to teach our students not to fear our “teacher” silence but to understand that it is our way of respecting their right to think before answering, and of showing our confidence in their ability to respond to our question in the target language. Perhaps the students will communicate that they do not know the answer, or that they themselves have a question about what we are looking for.  But, their responses will be in the target language, and that is the main goal.  Teacher silence is golden.  It demonstrates trust in our students’ ability to learn to use their new language as well as trust in ourselves knowing that we are leading them on the right path to that learning.

Here is a link to an article by Jason Renshaw on his English Raven blog  that takes the “silent” strategy one step further.  I hope you will read it,  follow up by reading his second article,  Another Example of Enjoying the Silence…, watch the interview with Dr. Andrew Finch, an expert on ESL/EFL pedagogy and author of several ESL textbooks, and read the linked article  by Darren Elliot.  The discussion that ensues with ESL/EFL teachers worldwide is very stimulating and thought-provoking, and actually quite exciting!   Perhaps you will want to add your own thoughts!  Afterward, you may feel as I do, as though I was just lucky enough to have experts come into my home and share their knowledge and love of teaching ESL with me.

2 Responses

  1. I am really happy you liked that series of posts about teacher silence, and I think you have added a great follow up here! Well said.


    – Jason

  2. […] their conclusion, reinforcing their language skills and reviewing their methodology.  Just as In Language Learning, Silence is Golden on the part of the teacher, also golden is allowing your students to be at the center of their […]

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