Talking about Not Talking (Hatless)

The other day I got an email from Kevin Giddens of Do Nothing Teaching fame.   He said he was going to be giving a keynote at a conference for Guatamalan public school teachers and wondered if I would put together a short video in which I talk about my “Do No Talking” class.  So I did.  I filmed myself talking on and on about my no talking class.  Which seemed normal at the time, but seems kind of strange now.

The video doesn’t really have anything new in it.  But I’m kind of jealous of how all my friends have started adding video posts to their blog.  So I’m posting it here so I can feel like I’ve joined the multi-media world (do people even use the term multi-media anymore? Sounds very 1990.)

Anyway, if you missed my post on “Do No Talking,” or you have lots of free time on your hands, or you are wondering what I look like without a hat, please feel free to check out the video.  And actually, as I was watching it again, I realized that the last minute or so does have a new idea or two.  And I’m not just writing that to get you to click play…

And please ignore the whole “Hello in Guatemala” thing at the start.  Or if you want, you can simple swap out Guatemala for whatever country you happen to be in right now.

12 thoughts on “Talking about Not Talking (Hatless)

  1. This is fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing this. I am sure it will be a big help to KevinG and the teachers in Guatamala. Lot's of interesting things in there. One thing I was wondering about was if you had pre-planned the questions you asked or if they just sort of came to you. Also, were they questions (or topics or grammar points or whatever)that you'd worked on previously in class? Thanks again for the awesome video/post!


  2. Love it Kevin! I have to agree with Rachel that it was great to hear (and see) you as well as read. I remember this time last year I lost my voice for a day and it made me appreciate how little talking I needed to do in a class. Can I ask, how much prep did you put in for that lesson and how much was unplanned before hand?


  3. Hi Rachel,Thanks for the kind words. Funny you should mention Gattegno. I was actually reading some history of language teaching methodologies at the time I first started teaching the "Do No Talking" lessons and was certainly influenced by the Silent Way. I have to admit that not speaking and keeping my instructions to the minimum, helped me be a little more aware of how the students were learning/interacting with the materials and perhaps left me more open to using the students interest to change the direction of the class and move it forward in ways I hadn't expected. Kevin


  4. Hey Anonymous-MikeActually, I kind of jumped the gun on this and wasn't sure if KevinG would be able to use it or not until after I posted it to the blog. But happy to say he thought he could work with it, so it's on its way to Guatemala.As far as the pre-planning. The questions were based on the themes students had picked and the language that emerged in a series of Dogme lessons for the 3 weeks or so before the DNT class. The actual questions weren't written down beforehand, but I knew I wanted to ask 2 or 3 questions relating to each theme and did kind of come-up with the concrete question on the spot. There was no overt grammar work at all during the Dogme lessons. I did have the students record their last conversations during those lessons and transcribe them as homework and gave feedback on the transcriptions. Which probably was another reason I was feeling a need to recycle and consolidate what we had done in the earlier lessons.And thank you for your sympathetic "a in place of e". It's nice to have that kind of subtle support. KevinBy the way, I was thinking that 'nudger' and 'seed planter' are close synonyms. Wanted to thank you for both when it comes to your feedback and suggestions.


  5. Hi Chris,Your video post on job hunting was actually one of the posts that started my whole multimedia envy (I have now learned that multimedia is one word, much to my chagrin). The prep work for the class was pretty minimal. I knew I wanted to review some of the language we had been working with in class. I knew I wanted to avoid speaking. I came up with the basic outline of the class and had a lesson plan, but it was about half a page long and had nothing about written student feedback during the lesson. So I guess the short answer when it comes to prep is, not much.KevinAnd for anyone who doesn't know, Chris has a fab blog in which he not only posts his own thoughts on ELT and great lesson ideas, but regularly shines the spotlight on other teachers. If you have time, be sure to check it out:


  6. On the ESOL teachers Diploma I worked on for the last few years, we had an assignment where teachers would choose any aspect of methodoloy that had been new to them and teach a lesson around it and reflect. Somewhat surprisingly, as it had only been mentioned in passing, a fair few each year would choose the Silent Way. It was always a productive choice as teachers saw how much could be achived by getting out of the way a bit more.


  7. Wish I could have watched a few of those lessons. I've always been attracted by the Silent Way. Did the student-teachers use Cuisenaire rods? I've given CLL a go (in a very weak form), and used to run a months worth of almost pure TPR classes with all of my elementary school children's classes. But even though I don't really do strong or pure old school methodology-based classes now, a lot of what I do in my classes is still informed by those "designer lessons" as Nunan called them. Still, I wish I had more of a chance to see those methods and techniques in action, instead of just implementing them based on a bunch of reading.


  8. Nice idea, Kevin. I once pretended my cold had destroyed my voice so that my students would be forced to talk (they were particularly shy). Caring about my health, several took it upon themselves to lead lessons with their partners. Others tried to think of what I would say to them for feedback. It was impressive.I also like the side effect of asking students to figure out why you've done something. It can produce some great ideas to keep in mind next time you tell students (or other instructors) why you did as you did. 😉


  9. Hey Tyson,Amazing how students will step up and fill the soace that is left behind if a teacher just gets out of the way sometimes. Once in a while, I will write up the instructions for a simple speaking activity on the board, write a time limit up, point to the classroom clock, and walk out of the room. And depending on the class, it can have amazing results.And you really are spot-on with one of the big reasons I ask the students for reasons for activities. They really do come up with much better reasons than the ones I started with. Kevin


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