Why do we avoid ‘lecturing’ in teacher training?

I remember taking the Diploma and during the mid-course feedback to the lecturers, the group asked if we could have less pair work discussion. The argument went something like this: “We discuss questions on a topic with someone next to us who probably doesn’t know that much more and may know less. There are times when we’d just like to hear information from someone more experienced who can tell us.”

The irony of this was twofold: (1) A couple of days later a visiting trainer came and talked non-stop for 90 minutes and people were tearing their hair out, begging to have some group discussion or variety in the training sessions. (2) Those same trainee teachers all went straight into their teaching practice lessons and put students into pairs and groups. I wonder how many students were also thinking to themselves, “Can’t we have a lesson where the teacher just ‘tells us’? I don’t want to ‘find out’?

Anyway, my point is that many training rooms might benefit from periods when the trainer lectures though it should be approached as if showing a ‘handle with care’ sticker. After all, in many cases the trainer does have more knowledge than the trainees or may have a particular specialism or experience which needs to be imparted rather than discovered. Many trainees really appreciate the benefit of their trainer’s insight – especially if it offers an antidote to over-reliance on pair work and ‘asking your partner what they think’.

Of course lectures can go on too long and need to be varied. One approach is to speak for a few minutes and then open up what has been presented for discussion among the class or ask for questions. Lectures will work when interspersed with practical ideas or a moment in which trainees can try out a classroom activity which has been used to illustrate a point.

Another technique to increase interest and motivation is to ask the trainees before the lecture to write down three questions that they have about the topic you are going to talk about. Then, you deliver the lecture and if any of their questions are answered, they make a note of the answer. At the end, trainees ask the questions that they still want an answer to. You might not necessarily be able to answer the questions, but it should generate some useful discussion amongst the group.

For an example of using lectures in training sessions, take a look at this session on listening which makes use of a lecture.

Categories: Teacher Training

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