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Tutoring Tips: Talking Aloud

Talking Aloud is a Key Tutoring Strategy

Talking Aloud is our cornerstone strategy.  Your student may already do this unconsciously in his head.  Applying this strategy is simply a matter of persuading your student to verbalize his thoughts so that you can hear what he is thinking and therefore help him more effectively. It is important to be aware that many underachievers, particularly in mathematics, often try to solve a problem in complete silence inside their heads. They may believe that solutions will just pop into the heads of ‘smart’ people.

Babble on. If your student thinks like this, then your job will be more of a challenge. However, your student absolutely must learn to talk aloud and listen to himself for his own sake. Encourage him to tell you whatever is going on in his head, even if it is “I hate ….”.  Help him to ‘babble on’ about anything he sees in the problem. Help him to ask himself such generic questions as “What am I after?” and “What am I given?”

Encourage all hints of success. In particular, point out when your student was able to talk his way, even part way, through a question that initially, in silence, he felt that he could not do. Model ‘Talking Aloud’ for him, and encourage him to explain the steps to you as if he were teaching you. Cajole, praise, and bribe your student to use this strategy, because it must be mastered before the others strategies may be learned.  Ultimately, your student will learn to automatically ‘talk’ in his head whenever he is solving problems.

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