How to T.A.L.K. to Your Students


Ahh, the sound of little voices chirping away in English. Thatu2019s what every VIPKid teacheru2013and parentu2013wants to hear. So, how do we get our students talking?

By Teacher Kate C

T-Take an interest in your student.

Find out about your student. What did he do today that was fun? What is his favorite color? What did she eat for dinner? Did she like it? What is that on her shirt?

A-Ask questions.

Use the ppt as a springboard. There is so much to talk about! Solicit opinions. Ask questions that help the student connect the ppt to his experience. This is the essence of learningu2013taking new information and hanging it on the right u201cpegsu201d in your brain.

Can he walk to the grocery store?

Does she ride her bike to school?

What is that pig doing?

Who is driving the bus?

Does he like to ride on the bus?

Even when teaching letter b, in the first lesson of level 1, you can ask, with lots of TPR, u201cDo you (point) like (smile/thumbs up/heart/draw smiley/draw heart) bananas (show/circle)?u201d Find ways to link the information in your ppt to your studentu2019s experience.

L-Listen to the reply

Be sure youu2019re giving the student enough u201cthink timeu201d. He may need to translate your question in his head, think of an answer, translate that in his head and gather the courage to speak. This takes time. Listen actively, smiling and waiting.

After the student answers your question, show that you heard him. Rephrase the answer if it was grammatically incorrect. Agree with the studentu2026or be shockedu2026or whatever. Let them see that what they said impacted you. Comment on it to further the discussion.

K-Keep trying

Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to get a student talking. Look for clues that will help. Often you can see from what a student is wearing (Is that Hello, Kitty?) some good conversation starters. But, if you donu2019t succeed the first time, keep trying. Keep smiling. When your students feel safe and see that you are genuinely interested in them and their answers theyu2019ll start chatting. And your classroom will never be the same. :>


  1. The more I read, the more excited and motivated I get. However, there is this daunting thought of trepidation regarding the interview and the demo lesson. I’ve been out of the classroom for quite sometime now.
    I have always loved teaching; played it as a kid with my dolls as the students. I’m third generation teacher which began with my grandfather, grand uncle and there daughter and now me. The first present I got from my grandfather was a chalkboard with legs to stand, I was very excited, just as I am now! Thanks

  2. I feel exactly the same way. I loved traching but have been away for a long tim. I don’t have ESL training. It sounds very exciting!

  3. I ❤️ teaching and spending time with children! I too get so excited the more I read. I sent in an application this last summer and got scared to continue. Thought I would wait till things slow down. This is my last year teaching in the system, and I want to do this next. Looking forward to 2018 an VIPKID!

  4. My best friend is in the middle of applying and thought it would be a good fit for me too. I agree Marta, the interview and demo lesson portions of the application are quite daunting. I don’t have a degree in teaching. When I was young, I wanted to be a teacher. Like you, Marta, I played school with dolls too 🙂 I ended up going into social work and work in the child protection field. I want to be able to serve children in another capacity and think this could be good.


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