Speaking to be understood Teachers have a special way of speaking. Often, adult friends notice this and say 'Stop talking like a teacher!' Teachers adopt special strategies (called problem-reducing strategies) when speaking to their classes. Here are ten to start with. 1. Make regular checks Watch the students carefully to check that they understand. Check by looking at the students' faces. You can see whether they follow your meaning or not. (Do not keep asking 'Do you understand?' because this makes students feel that they should be understanding more and consequently makes them feel insecure.) Remember students also adopt strategies. They may say 'yes' when they don't understand anything! 2. Use familiar words Use mainly words which the students already know, or cognates - words which have a similar sound and meaning in their mother tongue. 3. Use familiar topics Refer to topics which are familiar to the students from their everyday lives, from earlier lessons, or from lessons in other subjects. 4. Lower the cognition level Avoid topics or concepts which students would find difficult to understand even in their mother tongue! 5. Recycle information Repeat yourself using the same words as before, or paraphrase, to give the students a second chance to understand. 6. Alter your style of speech Speak slightly slower than normal (as if you were speaking to a very large group of people) and exaggerate your intonation and stress on important words. Pause frequently to allow 'slow listeners' to catch up. (Regular pauses after sentence groups are more important than slow speech!) 7. Simplify the language structure Slightly simplify your range of structures when speaking and make sure you repeat the structures you use. 8. Use a range of sensory focus Support what you say with pictures, words or phrases on the blackboard, gestures, actions and facial expressions. Make sure that the students can see your face and mouth whenever you speak! 9. Use clear discourse markers Use regular signalling language to show what you are doing: 'Now', 'First of all', 'Good', 'We have done…' and 'Now we are going to do…'. Indicate clearly what the students should do: 'Now, listen carefully', 'Now, watch carefully' and so on. 10. Follow a routine Follow regular routines and patterns in your lessons so that students know what is happening and what is going to happen. These regular patterns help comprehension and provide security. For some more ideas look in Teaching English through English by Jane Willis.