Saint-Didier primary school

Cycle 2: "Talk time"

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During Talk Time, the pupil can share with the class whatever he or she wants to. The content and the form of this period are determined by the aims of the teacher who implements it.

My own aims are the following:

  • To allow the children to express themselves, perhaps about themselves or their home life, or possibly about something that they simply have to get out of their system. In this way, they become more available for school activities. Effectively, Talk Time is a transition between the school and home. It is no different to what happens in offices throughout the country at the beginning of every workday, colleagues gathering around for a coffee and a chat about the film they watched the previous night or domestic worries.

  • To provide a 'real' oral situation to the pupils, enabling them to develop their language skills. The positive outcomes of this communication are generated by the pupils themselves, without the input of an adult: real questions, increasingly complex talks, fluency. The children become more adept at expressing whatever they want as a direct result of their desire to find 'just the right phrase' and thinking beforehand about what they want to say and how they will say it.

  • Creating a real-life environment, during which the children speak to their classmates because they actually have something to tell them. It is not artificial, it is real life that the children are talking about. The 'outside' world ceases to exist because the school is not another world. The children make this connection, they realise that the school has a place in their lives, and what they learn is related to what goes on outside the school.


With these aims in mind, this is how I implement Talk Time:

  • When they arrive in the morning, the pupils decide whether they want to take part in Talk Time. A table has been drawn up for the registration process; it contains columns for days and one row for each child and is used for one month. Children register by ticking the appropriate box. I never ask the pupils to register; in fact I am not involved at all. Children who cannot manage by themselves ask their classmates for help in registering. Or they may ask their parents. No extra time is involved in the registration process since it occurs while the children are settling down.

  • I say hello to the class, then the Talk Time leader (one pupil volunteers to act as the activity leader for the whole week) takes my place. I sit down with the pupils. The activity leader says, "Talk Time is now open", and, using the table, he invites each talker in turn.

  • When all the talks have finished, he says, "Talk Time is now closed". School activities then begin.

In order that the my aims are met, some rules have been established:

  • When each talk has finished, pupils can raise their hands, to give their reaction, ask questions, ask for clarification… They are invited to speak by the talker, who answers their questions if necessary. In this interaction, the specific skills that come into play are the language skills that I want every child to attain.

  • I can also register for Talk Time. I do register occasionally and, by doing so, the children realise that school is part of real life. I am the teacher, but I am also a person with a life outside of the school. It also makes the children realise that what they say in Talk Time is important, since I also have interesting things that I want to talk about.

  • Only one topic is allowed for each talk. This prevents the pupils from straying and means that Talk Time does not take longer than 15 minutes. Without such a rule, Talk Time would last much longer.

  • I make notes of children's specific language abilities on my oral communication chart. I am continually monitoring each child's progress. During Talk Time, I take advantage of my spectator role to observe the children more closely; I can then easily observe the following abilities :

- I can listen to whoever's talking.

- I can talk to the class.

- I can give my opinion.

- I can make my disagreement known.

- I can recite a poem alone. (Some children like reciting poetry during Talk Time.)

- I can remember whatever I wanted to say.

- I can contribute without a pencil or chewing-gum in my mouth.

- I can speak without my hand in front of my mouth.

- I can speak loudly enough to be heard.

- I can make myself understood.

The children come to realise that I do not make any judgements about what is important and what is not important for Talk Time. As a rule, I absolutely do not show any bias in favour of presentations/talks with a claim to cultural merit, such as: talking about my trip to the museum or the concert, showing photos of my last holiday in China, showing a fossil to the class…

For me, Talk Time is not an exercise during which children choose a topic or an object according to what they think the teacher expects. I want the children to think of the whole class, and not just me, when preparing for Talk Time.

For example, from the children's point of view, 'losing a tooth' may be exciting, because they can identify with it, or because of the way the event is described, perhaps in a funny or mysterious manner. Thus, I think that it is a valid subject in Talk Time: it is not a waste of time.

Through Talk Time, the speaker asserts himself as part of the class collective, he brings something from his life for his classmates. The children and I get to know one another better. Finally, in the eyes of the collective, the talker is a person who is in the same class as them, not just a pupil.

Corinne Famelart


This page has been translated from French by Andreas Theodorou.






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summary > school > cycle 2

Last Update :11/21/04