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The “Take 5” Method

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0:00. 0:01. 0:02. 0:03. The clock begins its count up to 25:00, and we launch headfirst into the lesson: Hellos, warm up, review, present, practice, produce, homework help, goodbye song, goodbyes…

Sometimes class can feel like a race against the clock, as we sprint to cover all the given material in 25 minutes. But let’s press the pause button for a moment. In our desire to transmit this information, are we taking the time to stop and listen to our students?

By Teacher Emily 

As ESL teachers, we know the maxim: Reduce TTT. Yes, the infamous Teacher Talk Time. We all know the benefits of reducing TTT: classes become less monotonous and students become active participants in their learning. But how can this holy grail of ESL teaching best be put into effect in the VIPKID classroom, where we have tight time frames and young students with limited English speaking skills? I recommend the The “Take 5” Method.

Asking your student a question? Take 5.

Giving your student an instruction? Take 5.

Every time you ask your student to produce something, whether it be an answer or an activity, slowly count to five in your head. 1… 2…. 3… 4… 5… Embrace the silence. It may feel like foooooorever to you, but in that time, your student needs to 1) hear you, 2) process what you’ve said, 3) think about the answer, and 4) respond – all of which takes time! Make the silence less awkward for you, and less intimidating for your student, by smiling, giving a thumbs up, nodding encouragingly, making a silly face – just keep your mouth shut for those five seconds.

Maybe your student won’t know the answer, follow the instruction, or understand the activity – that’s fine! Give a clue, model the activity, or rephrase the question – and Take 5 again. Still nothing? Now is your time to speak – say or show them the answer, have them repeat, tell them how awesome they are doing, and move on to the next activity, knowing that you have given your students the opportunity to think, remember, reason, guess, and speak, rather than just memorize and repeat.

Let’s make the most of our 25 minutes by hitting the pause button, Taking 5, and listening to what our students have to say!