“…so I had to go and sponge the juice off my shirt and when I came back in everybody was laughing!”

One prospective teacher taps her pencil against her notepad. Another tries to stifle a yawn. It’s 3pm on the first day of the second week of the world’s worst CELTA course and Bob, the instructor, is holding court.

“Now, where was I? Oh yes, Teacher Talk Time. You should always try to reduce it. Unless, for example you think of a funny story while you’re teaching and want to tell it, like I just did. Actually, that story’s a bit long but if I hadn’t told it then, the moment would have passed. Usually, though, you should keep TTT to a minimum.”

The instructor points to a bleary-eyed CELTA candidate who has raised his hand.

“What if a student asks a question and you need to explain something?” he asks.

“Of course, if you need to explain something, you’ll have to explain it. Preferably off the top of your head and without using any visual prompts. Also, if a student talks about something to another student and you also know about it, you might want to chip in and have your two cents, otherwise they won’t be aware that you know about it.”

Janet, the other instructor, nods her head in agreement.

“Of course, you might want to make different decisions based on whether you’re in an accuracy stage or a fluency stage.”

“Yes, you might want to make different decisions based on whether you’re in an accuracy or fluency stage,” Bob says, “and by the way, people don’t really listen when women speak so if a woman says something, make sure you explain it for everyone.”

Janet nods in agreement again (I’m sorry, but she does. It’s only satire).

“In an accuracy stage,” Bob continues, “you might want to take the time to correct students and explain what errors they’ve made. Whereas in a fluency stage-“

“The same,” says Janet.

“Right,” says Bob, looking around at the participants to make sure it’s sinking in.

“Finally, even though you want to reduce TTT, it is a good idea to let students know what you’re up to. So if you’re looking for your pen, for example, you need to say Where is that pen now? I had pen a minute ago. One of those clicky ones. Where did I put it?”

“Otherwise,” says Janet, “the students won’t know you’re looking for a pen.”

“That’s right,” Bob says. “They won’t know. Any questions?”

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