Empowering Students Using the Partner Talk Strategy

How can we incorporate partner talk strategy in our classrooms? 

Empowering Students Using the Partner Talk Strategy

Partner Talk, or the “turn and talk” strategy, is a simple learning strategy in which students pair up and learn by discussing and sharing their thoughts and ideas on the material. The collaborative strategy can serve:

  • As a warm up activity to retrieve information learned in previous classes.
  • During lessons to help students process and understand the presented material.
  • As an end of class activity to help students recall and consolidate the information presented in class.
  • As a quick evaluation tool to check for student understanding of the material.

Partner Talk Strategy in Practice

There are five steps to the successful application of partner talk strategy in the classroom:


  • Specific time points or pauses during the lecture when partner talk will be practiced.
  • Questions that are used for student discussion. As the goal is to enhance comprehension and critical reflection on the material, questions that build on each other can be framed.

Teachers can place sticky notes on their text to remind them of when to pause, and which questions to ask.


In this step, teachers must first strategically pair students to encourage meaningful discussion and learning from each other. Instruct students to sit facing each other at an eye-to-eye level and allow them to decide among themselves who will start the discussion. The questions are then put forward.


Once the question has been asked, students are given some time (10-15 seconds) to process the question and think of their answers. During this time, teachers can assist students by repeating the questions, paraphrasing, or asking additional scaffolding questions. Students are also allotted a time period (one to two minutes) for discussing the question.

Monitor & Feedback:

In this phase, teachers go around the class listening to students discussing with their partners. Teachers can remind them to take turns listening and talking and check to see if students have understood the material. Listening to student responses helps teachers to clarify and correct misconceptions and give feedback to students.


Once students have finished discussing, they are instructed to reflect and write down their thoughts and impressions about the discussion and the points learned. These writings help teachers identify which student pairs have thoroughly understood the material and formed connections, and they can be asked to share their knowledge with the rest of the class.

Additional tips:

  • To check whether students are paying attention to their partners, teachers can ask the listener to repeat what the speaker said.
  • To ensure that the discussion time is not fully used up by one partner, teachers can divide the time between the participants and use a buzzer to indicate switching of roles, meaning the speaker becomes the listener.
  • A question/answer sheet can be given to each student pair, and students can note down their answers for each question. At the end of the session, some additional time can be given for students to change, add or delete information.

Partner talk encourages students to collaborate, discuss, brainstorm and share information empowering them to take an active role in their learning process.


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