The effective use of class time is a big issue in contexts where the exposure to the target language in and outside the classroom is restricted by low contact hours, big groups, limited resources, poor internet access and little opportunity to use the target language outside the school.

Teachers very frequently struggle to keep students engaged and active in class, and place the burden of keeping students’ attention upon themselves, which is not fair. On the other hand, the accepted assumption that students are not capable of focussing their attention on anything for longer periods of time is far from the truth – video game championships will easily disprove this theory. One can argue, however, that the level of attention paid by spectators is not quite the same as what actual participants bring to an activity. Thus, drawing a parallel with the classroom, we might ask ourselves:

  1. Is time management a real issue in most teaching situations we find ourselves in? Do we often have the feeling that there is not enough class time to do what is needed?

  2. Are students in our classes real participants or spectators? Would they flick the remote control to another channel, if that was possible?

  3. Are we, teachers, prepared/willing to lead students to take more initiatives and be more actively involved in their own learning? And if so, how does that tie in with their own expectations, and those of the school community?

  4. When planning classes, do we put the focus on what students will be doing and what evidence of understanding will be provided, or is our focus entirely geared to what the teacher will be doing at each stage of the lesson?

  5. What kinds of tasks/activities pose challenges which our students are willing to embrace? How often are we able to include those in class?

Teachers have a lot to manage and are accountable for things which very often are beyond their control. Perhaps it’s time we shared with students part of the responsibility for, among other things, the effective use of class time.