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#qskills – What do I do when I ask the class a question and no-one is speaking?




Today’s question for the Q: Skills for Success authors: How do I deal with a situation when I address a discussion question to the entire class, and no one is speaking?

Tamara Jones responds.

We are no longer taking questions. Thank you to everyone who contacted us!

Look out for more responses by the Q authors in the coming weeks, or check out the answers that we’ve posted already in our Questions for Q authors playlist.


  1. It’s a dissapointing situation,isn’t it? In my entire carrer as an English teacher here in Brazil I’ve learned some things that have helped me to avoid this silent moment during the class. Firstly I feed them with information about the discussion point, vocabulary, real examples and so on. Secondly I model the activity myself before direct it to them.

  2. Thanks for this great video!

    I think you nailed it on the head. In Korea, except for the most enthusiastic classes of super confident students, nobody really wants to share their opinion too much in front of large groups. That should come as no surprise since the fear of speaking in front of peers combined with the terror of making a grammatical mistakes and somebody in the class commenting on it can be overpowering. All of that tends to go away though when you work in pairs – then after the issue has been discussed you can compare ideas, and they are usually more forthcoming.

    • Thanks for sharing! I started out my teaching career in Korea, and I know what silence in a room feels like! Pair work, as you say, is a great way to combat the fear many of us have of public speaking.

  3. Accordingly, I love the idea of modelling the activity. However, I do keep encourage the students to work in pair then in group to dismiss the fear inside their minds as well as in their heart. Also, I lecture them that anyone can commit a mistake so don’t be afraid just free your mind your tongue will be free. Practise at home by listening an watch English cartoons as they are still green in English.

    • I agree that encouraging students not to worry about making mistakes is essential. It’s easier said than done, but I try not to get too flustered when I make a mistake in front of the class, so the students can see that it’s a normal part of learning.

    • I agree with you in some way but when I pair my students for example they try to do the activities in their native language, even if I monitor them not to do that. And just the committed students try to practice the listening out of school enviroment. And the most majority of them don’t do this. Thanks for encouraging me keeping doing so.

      • I think you are on the right path, but I am surprised to hear that your students are doing the speaking in their native language. Perhaps the tasks are too difficult for them to comfortably do in English? Otherwise, it’s a waste of their time to be in an English class. However, I do understand the difficulty of having students do listenings after school hours. I know I have a hard time fitting in my French homework with my busy schedule, so I can sympathize.

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