Thinking Time

teacher tips, EFL, ESL, englishclassroom

One of the key philosophies at Dave and Amy English School is to give the students thinking time.   What does this mean?   Simply that in ANY activity, give the students TIME to THINK. 


Too many times, teachers—-in the bid to TEACH and be HELPFUL —- jump in and give the student the answer.    We’re undermining our students by doing so.


Why is rushing students bad?  For many reasons:


  • Maybe the student knew the answer.   But sometimes it takes time to retrieve the information (especially in another language).   We are denying them the confidence that comes with answering by supplying the answer ourselves.


  • Maybe the student DIDN’T know the answer.   But our jumping in STILL doesn’t help.   Because the student will come to EXPECT us to jump in and help.    We don’t want the students becoming dependent on our help.   We want them to be confident and to try and answer themselves.


  • Students retain information better when they struggle.   If they have to pause, think, and retrieve the information, they will remember it better.   


So, what does THINKING TIME look like in the classroom?


  • Flashcards done as a whole class:   Just hold and wait.   Wait for the students to say what it is.   If NOONE knows, then of course TELL the students.  Have them repeat and re-do 2 or 3 flashcards later to see if any students remember.


  • Games:  Students are struggling.  Don’t jump in telling them the answer.  Give them time to figure it out themselves.  If (after some time) they STILL can’t progress in the game, (and other students can’t help), then help a little.   If you are having to help a lot then consider that the game level is too difficult and drop them down a level.


  •  Writing time:  Again, students need to do it by themselves as much as possible.   If a child is taking TOO LONG, consider circling a few letters to help with ABC phonics texts.    If children are readers, ideally they need to read and find the answer themselves.



If we give our students TIME to THINK, we will be amazed at how quickly they progress.

Write a comment

Comments: 1
  • #1

    Alan Miesch (Tuesday, 23 April 2019 18:20)

    "If you give someone the answer, you rob them of the chance to figure it out for themselves."