French scientists are advising teachers to use microphones rather than strain their voices in increasingly noisy classrooms.
Researchers have issued the advice after a study of more than 3,000 French professeurs revealed they were twice as likely as other workers to suffer from sore throats and other vocal disorders. Female teachers were more likely to suffer than men because their higher voices are more at risk.
The report said the problem in France's traditionally formal lessons had been exacerbated because pupils were expected to listen less and interact more.
The acoustics of cavernous French classrooms, many of which date from the 19th century, could also be adapted to reduce noise. Schools should consider putting rubber on the feet of tables and chairs and add curtains and bookshelves, according to the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
Trainee teachers should also go on vocal courses, learn how to perform breathing exercise and adapt their diet. Spicy foods, dairy products, chocolate and tomatoes are not recommended, but drinking plenty of water is advised.
But teachers in England have mixed views on microphones.
Ian Brown, head of Lark Hall Primary in Clapham, south London, is in favour. "I think almost all teachers have suffered in their careers from having to raise their voices too high," he said.
Sue Kirkham, head of Walton High School in Stafford, said pupils respond to quiet voices. "In a classroom of fewer than 30 students, a microphone seems an unnecessary use of technology," she said."
* La Voix ses troubles chez les enseignants La Voix. See: http:tinyurl.com2x7489