16 Jul

Getting A Student To Talk Aloud

How do I get my student to speak in class and also use ‘speaking aloud’ with me during lessons?

This is a great question as it brings in personal characteristics of the student in conjunction with how comfortable they are with the learned material. It considers whether they’re introverted or extroverted, or if they have issues with confidence. In either case, more knowledge about the subject materials and understanding how the topics work will create a desire to communicate and exchange information. Students who don’t know much about the particular subject won’t have much to say.

A great way to help students to open up more with the tutor to ‘talk aloud’ and feel comfortable enough to speak in class, is to relate to them, on their level. Try and explain the concepts in a way which makes sense to them! You may need to re-word and restructure material until the student properly understands it. It also helps  to explain what the material is actually about, sometimes students are working on problems and have no idea what it actually is about. They don’t understand some of the material has real life implications, which can negatively affect how they think about it. If they have the concept related a little more to their life, they might understand and enjoy it more. Also, they need to understand that making mistakes isn’t a negative thing; they need to be alleviated from any fear of failure. You could try and get the student to speak about their goals and what they’re hoping to achieve. How their success in school will help lead their future in a more positive direction.

Try to explain to the student how important it is for you to understand what is going through their head.  The student should realise that Talking Aloud is an opportunity for the student to vocalise their understandings of the question they’re doing, regardless of how silly it might sound. We want to create a very positive learning environment where the student feels comfortable with answering in detail. Encourage the student to mention all parts of their thought process that led to the conclusion. Tutors should be nurturing and supportive as the student may feel uncomfortable or venerable as they divulge what’s going on in their head when they look at a problem. It can really help to model this for the student by doing it yourself when you are figuring out a problem. Speak your thoughts aloud and it will make them more comfortable to do the same. Another little trick is to ask to student to teach the question to you as if they were the teacher – this gets them talking without feeling awkward.

If students are shy to speak and give their opinions themselves, they often are more comfortable when they are participating in role plays with a mini-guide.  Sometimes it can help to probe by asking yes or no questions, and then to give them an opinion to express, i.e ¨You disagree because ….” “You agree because…”. This gives them a basis on which to practice the topic you are focusing on. This takes away any fears they might have, as they have had time to reflect upon their thoughts before uttering them to you. This can be a good way to see how the student is formulating their answers and you can try to explain the material to them more thoroughly if required.

Students will usually feel more comfortable speaking aloud if they feel supported by the tutor, and that they won’t be judged upon their response. The more confidence a student has about a subject, the more inclined they will be to speak about it. Confidence can be bolstered from knowledge about solving problems through several different approaches. I.e The teacher may explain one way to solve quadratic equations, while you may show the student another way. Regardless of which way is ultimately preferred, the student will feel more comfortable knowing they have more proverbial tools at their disposal.

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