How to Learn to Speak up in Class

Don’t just sit in class and watch the same people raise their hands or participate in discussions.  Getting involved means you will enjoy the class more and may even earn you a better grade.  If you’re hesitant to speak up in class, the following tips will help.

Get involved –

Most teachers really do want feedback from their students.  This helps them know they are communicating effectively and may give them some fresh ideas to incorporate into future lessons.  It also tells the teacher you’re paying attention, you’ve done your assignments and you know the material.  Speaking up will also help you stay alert and can help you retain any new information that is presented.

Know the material –

Students who read assigned material and do their homework are better prepared to participate in class.  Knowing the lesson means you’ll have more confidence to speak out when called upon.  Anytime a teacher gives a reading assignment, listen up.  Then be sure to look over the chapter, make notes, and take note of words in bold print and sidebars items that further explain important facts or concepts.

If there are questions or points of review at the end of the chapter, find the answers and jot them down in a notebook.  Keep a list of new words and discussion points listed in the book or those your teacher posts on the board.  This gives you a heads-up on key information and will help if you are called on to speak in class.

Practice at home –

Identify what it is that makes you hesitate to get involved in class.  If it’s the sound of your voice, practice speaking out loud in front of a mirror and role play a class situation. Anyone’s voice quality can be improved with a bit of practice, but remember: it’s what you say that really counts, not the sound of your voice when you say it.  The more you speak up, the easier it will be to keep doing it.

Ask a question –

If you dread speaking out in class, start out with asking a good question. This takes the spotlight off you and puts it back on the teacher (or another student who wishes to answer).  It also gives the teacher a chance to use your question in different ways – to open a class discussion, to correct common misconceptions about the material, or to share extra insight on something that may show up on a future exam.  Asking questions also shows you’re paying attention and want to participate in class.

Answer a question –

Suppose another student or the teacher asks a question and you know the answer.  If you know the answer, this is your chance to speak up.  Raise your hand and wait for the teacher to acknowledge you, then share what you know.  A brief answer is better than a long, drawn-out one.  If the teacher wants you to share more, you’ll be encouraged to continue.

Open a discussion –

As you gain more confidence, learn to ask an open-ended question that encourages class discussion.  You can also introduce discussions by sharing something you heard in the news or read elsewhere that pertains to the topic.  Asking a question of the teacher is another way to start a discussion that will involve other students.

Once you learn how to speak up in class, you’ll find you look forward to school a lot more.  Just a few tips to remember: Acknowledge your teacher when you speak and show respect at all times.  You can encourage other students to participate by limiting your comments.  This way, you don’t come across as a know-it-all; instead, you simply sound like a student who finds the subject interesting enough to participate in class.