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2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

Second Language Classroom Interaction Patterns: An Investigation Of Three Case Studies


YANG Chi Cheung Ruby, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong ABSTRACT The present study investigates the teacher-student interaction patterns of three NNS pre-service teachers teaching in three different secondary schools during their English lessons through analyzing the transcripts of their videotaped lessons. In the study, only the discourse patterns in the whole class teaching portion were investigated. The results show that the classroom discourse patterns followed the three-part I-R-F exchange structure proposed by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) in many instances. There were a great number of teacher initiations while only a small number of student initiations were found. The students mainly assumed the role of respondents.

INTRODUCTION Background of the study Classroom discourse analysis has long been investigated and classroom interaction patterns are worth being studied because of their great impact on either facilitating or inhibiting students language acquisition. Traditional language classroom interaction is usually characterized by a rigid pattern, particularly the acts of asking questions, instructing and correcting students mistakes. Also, teachers are usually the ones who select and initiate topics for conversation and restrict students responses. These phenomena can be found in Tsuis (1985) study of Hong Kong secondary English classes. In Tsuis report on two Form 2 English lessons, she discovered that these two classrooms lacked the meaningful interaction found in native speaker/non-native speaker (NS-NNS) conversation which is considered to be necessary for second language acquisition (Long, 1981, cited in Tsui, 1985). Also, teacher questions were the most dominant in the lessons. The interaction generated was predominantly a teacher-centred question-answer-feedback interaction during which student knowledge was displayed and evaluated, whereas Pupil-Initiate was completely absent. When a communication breakdown occurred, the question was often directed to another pupil instead of the teacher and student repairing the discourse. With the absence of opportunities for students to negotiate meaning with their teacher, their language acquisition is claimed to be inhibited (as suggested by Long, 1987). Teachers in traditional classrooms tend to dominate the interaction and speak most of the time because they think that close and persistent control over the classroom interaction is a precondition for achieving their instructional goals and students unpredictable responses can be avoided (Edwards & Westgate, 1994). This is especially the case for those teachers who lack confidence in the subject matter they teach (Smith & Higgins, 2006). Pupils, on the other hand, just act mainly as the receivers of knowledge. This interaction pattern is likely to minimize students involvement in the lessons (Walsh, 2002) and inhibit their opportunities to use language for communication (Hasan, 2006). McCarthy (1991, p. 18) suggests that teachers should try their very best to strike a balance between real communication and teacher talk. Cullen (1998) also believes that good teacher talk means little teacher talk because too much talk by the teacher deprives students of opportunities to speak. In other words, it means that instead of dominating the whole lesson, teachers should give their students more opportunities to initiate topics for conversation (Mackey, McDonough, Fujii, & Tatsumi, 2001).

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA Another reason for teacher dominance in classroom interaction is that it is rather difficult for teachers to get students oral responses. This is particularly true in Hong Kong classrooms. For instance, in the discussion groups of Allison and Martyns (1993) seminar, getting students to talk was considered as the most important issue among the teachers. 40% of the teachers questions (21 out of 52 questions asked) were related to this prob lem which included how to get students to speak up or participate in oral English activities (Allison & Martyn, 1993, p . 45). Also, in the action research studies conducted by Tsui (1996, p. 148-154) with a group of thirty-eight ESL teachers teaching in secondary schools in Hong Kong, over 70% of them thought that getting student s oral responses was one of their major problems in teaching. The teachers noticed factors leading to student reticence included: 1) low English proficiency of students; 2) students lack of confidence and fear of making mistakes and being laughed at; 3) teachers intolerance of silence; 4) the uneven allocation of turns because teachers tend to ask brighter students to answer questions; and 5) students not being able to understa nd teachers instructions. Purpose of the study Given the centrality of teacher talk in the classroom and their potential influence on students discourse patterns, this area is worth being investigated. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the teacher-student interaction patterns of three pre-service teachers teaching in secondary schools with different banding 1 during the whole class teaching portion of their English lessons through analyzing the transcripts of their videotaped lessons. A special emphasis is put on exploring the effects of teacher talk on the students discourse patterns. Tsui (1985) believes that it is essential for language teachers to know what has actually gone on in their own language classrooms. Johnson (1995) also suggests that an understanding of the classroom interaction patterns is essential for teachers to establish and maintain good communicative practices and such kind of understanding can be discovered through investigating the features of the teachers L2 classroom discourse. LITERATURE REVIEW Approaches to analyzing classroom discourse Classroom interaction patterns can be discovered by analyzing lesson transcripts. There are three major approaches for analyzing classroom discourse: interaction analysis (IA) approaches, conversation analysis (CA) approaches and discourse analysis (DA) approaches. The DA approach is more suitable because the major focus of this study was to find out the discourse pattern in the whole class teaching portion of each investigated lesson and the lessons could be analyzed systematically through its descriptive apparatus (system of analysis). The DA approach has been adopted in the majority of previous approaches to L2 classroom interaction, for example, Hardman, Smith, and Wall (2003), Abd-Kadir and Hardman (2007), etc. It has long been popular in the L2 teaching profession because the analyses used in the DA approach are simple, quick, straightforward and complete (Seedhouse, 2004). The system for analyzing classroom discourse developed by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975), which proposed that lessons could be analyzed at different levels, is explained as below. System of analysis Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) propose that the lesson is the highest unit of classroom discourse and is made up of a series of transactions (or lesson topics), which consist of one or more teaching exchanges that also consist of one or more moves, and moves are made up of acts as discussed below. Moves

According to the Information Leaflet on the Secondary School Places Allocation System 2005/2007 Cycle, the scaled marks of all students in the territory in their internal assessments at the end of Primary 5, and both in mid-year and at the end of Primary 6 will be put into an order of merit. Then students are equally divided into three Territory Bands, each consisting of 1/3 of the total number of primary students in the territory.

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA A typical three-part classroom exchange usually consists of an Initiation (I) by the teacher, followed by a Response (R) from a pupil and then followed by the Feedback (F) to the pupils response (Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). There are five classes of moves which then form the two major classes of exchanges - boundary and teaching exchanges. Boundary exchanges include framing moves, while initiation, response and follow-up moves form the teaching exchanges. The function of the boundary exchanges is to signal the beginning or end of a stage of a lesson, whereas the teaching exchanges are individual steps by which a lesson progresses. Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) identify a number of different categories of teaching exchanges. The four main functions of these teaching exchanges are informing, directing, eliciting, and checking and are distinguished by their different types of act which form the initiating moves. Acts 1. Teacher and pupil inform This exchange is used when the teacher passes on facts, opinions, ideas and information to pupils. Sometimes, pupils may also offer information which they think is relevant or interesting. Teacher direct It is in this exchange that the teacher gets pupils to do something. Teacher and pupil elicit This category is involved when the teacher obtains verbal responses from pupils. Very often, the teacher will use a series of elicit exchanges to move the lesson forward and keep it ongoing. Sometimes, an elicit is also used to check if the pupils remember a certain fact. Feedback is an essential element in a classroom exchange because having given their response, pupils want to know whether it is correct or not. Pupils may also sometimes ask the teacher questions. Check It is in this exchange that the teacher checks how well the pupils progress is, and whether they can follow the teaching pace. This is achieved by using a checking move such as Have you finished?. Apart from the four main functions of teaching exchanges, there now follows a summary of some other acts suggested by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975). Clue It is realized by a statement or a question which provides additional information to help pupils to answer the elicitation. Bid In this act, a pupil calls the teachers name or raises his/her hand to signal a desire to contribute to the classroom discourse. Nomination It is realized by the name of a pupil with its function of calling on the pupil to contribute to the classroom discourse. Reply This act is either realized by a statement or nonverbally such as a nod to give response to the elicitation. React It is realized by a non-linguistic action to provide response to the preceding directive. Accept It is realized by responses such as yes, good or repetition of a pupils reply, with neutral low fall intonation, to show that the reply is appropriate. Evaluate This act is usually realized by words such as good or interesting which comment on the quality of a pupils reply or react, also by no, with a high fall intonation, and repetition of the pupils reply.

2. 3.

4.

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Each move has different functions. Framing moves are indications given by the teacher that one stage of a lesson has been finished and another stage will begin. They are signalled by a closed class of items (that is, markers) such as OK, Now or Right (Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). The initiation and response moves are complementary. While the function of an initiation move is to pass on information, direct an action or elicit a fact, the type of response move is predetermined by the opening move because its function is to be an appropriate response to the opening move. The response appropriate to an informative move is to acknowledge that one is listening but it can also be performed nonverbally. Following a teachers directive move, it may be followed by a pupils verbal acknowledgement that he/sh e has heard it. Following an elicitation, there is usually a reply or sometimes a comment (Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). The function of a follow-up move is to let the student know how well he/she has performed. It usually occurs after the response move and is realized by acceptance, evaluation or comment (Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). Such kind of feedback may sometimes be performed nonverbally, for example, with a nod (Seedhouse, 2004). If the 3

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA follow-up move is withheld, the pupil is likely to predict that his/her answer is wrong or not what the teacher expects. Withholding feedback until a correct response is given (Tsui, 1995), or initiating repair to get the student producing the target pattern (Seedhouse, 2004) is a common strategy teachers use to avoid giving negative evaluation. Centralized communication in traditional language classrooms Centralized communication is generally considered as the most obvious characteristic of the discourse pattern in a traditional language classroom. In the traditional teacher-led language classroom, the typical pattern of interaction is a three-part exchange sequence of teacher initiation (usually in question form), followed by student response and then teacher feedback (Cazden, 1988). The speaking rights of teacher and pupils are unequal (Cazden, 1988; Seedhouse, 2004). The teacher is usually the person who controls the topic for classroom talk, and determines when to start and stop talking in the classroom (Cazden, 1988; Tsui, 1995) because he/she believes that a tight control over classroom communication is a precondition for reaching his/her pedagogical objectives (Edwards & Westgate, 1994) and can secure an orderly interaction pattern (Edwards & Furlong, 1978, p . 15). It is a common strategy that the teacher throws the speaking turn open to the whole class. If there is no volunteer who takes the turn, the teacher will rather quickly assign a student to take the turn to sustain the interaction or to move the lesson forward (Tsui, 1995). The teacher is central to the classroom interaction while pupils are listeners of the lesson. Thus, Edwards and Furlong (1978, p. 23) think that most teacher talk can only be described as telling. Because of this kind of centralized communication, teacher talk takes up the largest proportion of classroom talk. It represents approximately two-thirds of the discourse in both L1 and L2 classrooms according to Chaudron (1988). The typical I-R-F interaction pattern can easily be found in a language classroom. For example, in the analysis of one of the lesson transcriptions in an in-service teacher training project designed to raise trainees awareness of the features of their classroom talk, Thornbury (1996) found that there are prolonged sequences of teacher initiation followed by student response and then the teachers giving feedback, which made the lesson less communicative. Thornbury (1996) added that one reason for such kind of interaction pattern can be explained by the constraints imposed by the grammatical syllabus. Cullen (1998), however, believes that the analysis of teacher talk based on the criteria of communicative behaviour in the world outside the classroom are over simplistic. In his analysis of the video transcription of a thirdyear English class in a mixed preparatory school in Cairo, Egypt, Cullen found that what appears to be noncommunicative teacher talk is not necessarily so in the classroom context. He therefore suggests that the reality of the classroom context should also be considered when analyzing classroom interaction patterns. Effects of teacher talk The dominance of teacher talk is not an uncommon phenomenon in classroom discourse patterns and a number of studies have been devoted to investigating its characteristics and effects on students interaction patterns, or the characteristics that make teacher talk communicative (Cullen, 1998). One of the research studies that investigated the effects of teacher talk is an ethnographic research conducted by Ernst (1994) during a school year through participant observation. Data were collected through audioand videotaping of the interactions of the students (aged 6-11) from an elementary school in Florida. The microanalysis of the audio and video transcripts showed that when the teacher assumed the role of initiator, the students assumed the role of respondents. In one of the classroom transcripts taken from university teacher training courses in southeast Mexico, more student-centred activities and less teacher talk were emphasized and therefore, Cadorath and Harris (1998) found that there were authentic teacher-student and student-student interactions involved. Besides these, in the research study conducted by Burns and Myhill (2004), the video data showed the Initiation-Response-Initiation-Response (IRIR) discourse pattern, with only very little teacher feedback. Pupils length of responses was inhibited by such kind of teacher-dominated discourse, with few extended exchanges and the pupils rarely initiated interactions with the teacher. 4

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

Hasan (2006) also did an analysis of the classroom discourse to find out the patterns of the use of questions and initiations. In this study, six classes of six NNS English teachers at Damascus University were audio and video recorded. The results of the analysis were consistent with the general claim that teachers in traditional classroom interactions usually speak most of the time. In this study, there were a greater number of teachers initiations while the number of students initiations was smaller. There were 176 teachers initiations among all the six classes while only 10 students initiations could be found. These made the classroom non -communicative and students natural use of language was inhibited. Lastly, Abd-Kadir and Hardman (2007) did an analysis of the discourse of whole class teaching in twenty Kenyan and Nigerian primary school English lessons. In the Kenyan data, teacher explanation, questions and cued elicitations accounted for over 80% of the initiating moves, while pupil demonstration accounted for only 4% of the responses. And in the Nigerian data, teacher questions and cued elicitations accounted for nearly 60% of the initiating moves, whereas pupil questions accounted for less than 1%. In these two sets of data, over 92% of the choral and individual responses were three words or less. This implies that the dominance of teacher talk gives students little opportunity to respond and so their responses tend to be very short. Although it is generally considered that less teacher talk can facilitate more student-student interaction, some research studies have found that teacher talk still has an important role to play. In the analysis of the language practices of a teacher in a Grade One Italian bilingual class, Mickan (2006) found that teacher talk is used for giving instructions, managing students classroom activities and behaviour, teaching subject content, and interacting with individual students. Apart from these functions, with the repetitive teacher talk (repeated exposure to the discourses of classroom activities), childrens comprehension skills developed. Mickan (2006) strongly claims that this advantage applies in foreign and second language classrooms as well. For example, in a one-year ethnographic study conducted in a first-grade ESL classroom in the U.S., Willett (1995) found that three girls developed comprehension skills through the highly predictable and continual reenactment of the morning classroom events and worked independently in the phonics work. Kanagy (1999), in her study of a Japanese immersion program in the northwestern U.S., also found that the kindergarteners just entering the immersion school were socialized to initiate and respond to L2 discourse sequences by the three daily classroom routines, greeting, attendance and personal introduction. Building on the earlier research studies, the current study aims to provide an analysis of the discourse patterns of the three investigated lessons in Hong Kong secondary schools. More specifically, the key focus was to find out if the three involved teachers dominated in the whole class teaching portion of their lessons and what feedback strategies the teachers used to engage students in the teacher-student interactions. This was achieved by transcribing and coding the three video-recorded lessons using the three-part IRF structure developed by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) and different categories of acts were also coded for analysis. In brief, classroom data from a number of studies offer support for the view that teacher initiations tend to dominate the classroom discourse and make the classroom non-communicative. And, when the teacher assumes the role of an initiator, the students will assume the role of respondents. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Case study approach The methodological approach used in the present study was a qualitative case study approach in which the lessons of three non-native ESL pre-service teachers were studied with the purpose of investigating the whole class teacher-student interaction patterns in these lessons. A case study approach was adopted in this study because only a small number of lessons (three lessons) taught by three participants were used for analyses. Another advantage of using a case study approach is that each case (or lesson) could be studied in more in-depth and a fuller understanding of the researched phenomenon then became possible (Merriam, 1998).

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings The participants

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

The selected participants in the present study were three Year 3 NNS pre-service teachers (one male and two females) in a tertiary institution in Hong Kong. All of them are from the same programme - Bachelor of Education (Honours) (Languages) (Four-year Full-time) programme. They were obtained from nonprobability convenience sampling because of availability (McMillan, 2000, p. 108). All of them were assigned to me as my supervisees by the Assistant Head of the English Department as it is part of my duty to supervise students in their teaching practice, based on my preferred geographical location of the schools indicated at the beginning of the school year. Three English lessons taught by the three participants were videotaped and transcribed for analysis. The three pre-service teachers were allocated to a Band 1, Band 2 and Band 3 school. The number of students in these three classes was 42 (27 males and 15 females), 34 (all males) and 36 (18 males and 18 females) respectively. Setting of the study The schools All the three pre-service teachers were allocated to different secondary schools on Hong Kong Island for their six-week teaching practice. One of them was allocated to a Band 1 EMI (English as the medium of instruction) co-educational school, one to a Band 2 CMI (Chinese as the medium of instruction) boys school and one taught in a Band 3 CMI co-educational school. The schools were allocated to the pre-service teachers based on the districts of their residential addresses. The teaching level of all these student teachers was junior secondary level (Forms 1 and 2) and their students were approximately 12 to 14 years old. The classes Three classes of students were involved in this study. First, the investigated class of the Band 1 school is a Form 2 class of average ability among the five classes of the whole form. For the Form 1 class in the Band 2 school, it is a mixed-ability class with the highest passing rate in the form test. And in the selected Band 3 school, there are only two Form 2 classes and the involved Form 2 class is slightly higher than the other class in the English level. The data The data for the present study was the transcripts of the three videotaped English lessons. The three selected lessons taught by the three pre-service teachers were video-recorded and then only the whole class teacherstudent interactions were transcribed, with the student-student interactions or private talk among the teachers and their students during group, pair or individual work being excluded because the overall purpose of the study was to investigate the whole class teaching portion of the lessons. The whole class interactions of the three videotaped lessons were transcribed and coded and then analyzed using the three-part I-R-F structure of discourse analysis (DA). MAJOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION Summary of the major findings The present study presented the classroom interaction patterns of three ESL classrooms of different school banding taught by three pre-service teachers. The major findings are summarized as follows: The analyses of the lesson transcripts showed that for the two lessons in the Band 1 and Band 2 schools (a vocabulary lesson and a grammar lesson respectively), the discourse patterns in the whole class interactions generally followed the I-R-F (i.e. Initiation-Response-Feedback) structure, with the teachers initiations usually in the form of questions, followed by the students responses, and then the teachers feedback. For example:

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings Speaker(s) Utterances Teacher Are you ready for the lesson? Learners Yes. Teacher Mm. Good. Teacher Learners Teacher Is it easy enough? Yes/No. Yes.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA Moves I R F I R F

However, the I-R structure (i.e. Initiation-Response) could also be found in a number of instances. For example: Teacher Learners Teacher Learners Whole class. Snorkel. Snorkel. Finished? Yes. I R I R

In many instances of the Band 1 class, the teacher formed initiations immediately after the student responses based on the responses the students had given in order to ask them for clarification or further elaboration of their responses and to maintain the flow of the classroom discourse. For example, immediately after the students response in the turn I think boring. I think its boring., the teacher formed another initiation It is very boring. Why is it so boring?. One more key feature in this lesson is that teacher initiations accounted for all the I-moves while no student initiations could be found. The teacher initiations performed the acts of eliciting (e.g. So which beach do you think is the best in Hong Kong?), directing (e.g. Form in groups now. In groups of four now.), informing (e.g. Today I want to teach you some vocab.) and giving clues to students (e.g. The water is ^2). In the grammar lesson of the Band 2 school, not only were there the discourse patterns of I-R-F and I-R but also some instances of the teaching exchanges formed only with I-moves, where the acts were mainly informative and directive. For example: Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher Put away all the things and we have to quiz now. Please sit properly. Please speak in English, Jason. This time I have stapled the worksheet I have stapled the quiz here. So you can just write down on it. Underline the mistake and write down the correct one on the above. You may now start and I will give you 4 minutes. OK? Sit down and keep quiet and do your quiz. I I I I d d d i d

Some instances of the acts of checking students progress and nomination could also be found in this lesson. For example, Yes, Tommy, whats the problem? (check) and Kelvin, can you please read out your sentence? You are so smart. (nomination). For the lesson in the Band 3 school (a grammar lesson), probably because of the students low level of English, it was largely dominated by the teachers initiations with mainly the informative (e.g. When you want to change the verb into past continuous tense, you have to use was or were with the verb plus -ing form) and directive (e.g. OK! Pass the worksheet to the back) acts. In some instances, it was found that the teacher had to give several initiations before the students gave responses. For instance: Teacher Teacher Teacher
2

So which was happening first? Which was happening first? Climbing the curtain or his mother came in first?

I I I

indicating rising intonation

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA Learner Climbing the curtain. R One more interesting phenomenon that could only be found in this lesson was that there was an instance that the teacher gave several clues in order to help her students reply to her initiation. However, after giving several clues but no student responses, the teacher just told the students the answers directly. This phenomenon can be illustrated as below: Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher When ^ When my mum ^ When my mother ^ When my mother came into my room. I I I I cl cl cl i

In all the three lessons, the boundary exchange was signalled by the teachers use of markers such as OK, now! or So. About the teacher and student initiations, in the three investigated lessons, there were a great number of teacher initiations with mainly the elicitation, informative and directive acts. In contrast, there were only a very small number of student initiations (see Table 1 below). Initiations Total no. of teacher initiations Total no. of student initiations Total Lesson 1 115 (100%) 0 (0%) 115 Lesson 2 180 (91.84%) 16 (8.16%) 196 Lesson 3 79 (98.75%) 1 (1.25%) 80

Table 1 The number of teacher and student initiations in the whole class teaching portion of each lesson

In most instances, the students just acted as respondents to the teachers eliciting moves, with the student initiations performing the informative, elicitation and bid acts rarely found (see Table 2 below). Functions of the utterances in student talk Lesson 1 58 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 58 Lesson 2 100 (85.47%) 7 (5.98%) 4 (3.42%) 6 (5.13%) 117 Lesson 3 19 (95%) 1 (5%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 20

To give responses to teachers eliciting moves (either individual or choral responses)


To offer information (informative) To ask teacher questions (elicitation) To signal a desire to contribute to the discourse (bid) Total

Table 2 Functions of the utterances in student talk in the whole class teaching portion of each lesson

Lastly, among the three lessons, it was found that, except for the teacher in the Band 1 class (Lesson 1) who was able to encourage her students to elaborate more of their responses in some instances (e.g. Why dont you like going to the beach? and You think it is very boring to go to the beach. Why is it so boring? ), all the teachers usually accepted or evaluated their students respo nses in the follow-up moves by saying Yes, Very good, or I see. Limitations of the study The major limitations of the present study are summarized below. The first limitation is related to the small number of participants involved (three pre-service teachers) in the study. Though the present study gave an in-depth analysis of the classroom discourse patterns of the three selected lessons, the results were only applicable to the situations that occurred in the three lessons and thus they are by no mean adequate to draw any firm conclusions on this topic. Another limitation comes from the research setting and the participants of this study. For the selected class in the Band 2 school, it is a Form 1 class in a boys school, while the other two classes in the Band 1 and Band 3 8

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA schools are Form 2 classes in co-educational schools. The participants involved are also an issue. They are all Year 3 pre-service teachers who had their first Block Practice of their Bachelor of Education programme. The different nature of the three classes made it difficult to compare the results obtained and the findings collected from these three inexperienced teachers may be different from more experienced in-service teachers. Due to logistical constraints of the research and the system as the supervisor of teacher trainees, different topic areas were taught in the three lessons. In the case studies, one selected lesson was a vocabulary lesson while the other two lessons were grammar lessons. Different topic areas may involve different classroom discourse patterns because of their different pedagogical purposes and teaching activities and therefore, their discourse patterns may not be comparable. Lastly, in analyzing the classroom discourse patterns of the three selected lessons, the present study focused only on the whole class interactions, with the student-student interactions or private talk among the teachers and their students during group, pair or individual work being excluded from the investigation. Thus, the study does not reflect the whole picture of interaction in the three lessons. Suggestions for further research The limitations of the present study presented above highlight the need for further research. First, a larger number of participants should be involved. In further research, more teachers teaching in the three bands of schools should be included so that firmer conclusions can be drawn. In addition, to make the collected findings more comparable, the setting of the study, which includes the school type (boys schools, girls schools or co -educational schools), the class level and the topic areas taught in the lessons should be carefully controlled. Also, some more experienced teachers should be involved in a study, perhaps comparing pre-service and in-service teachers. The last suggestion concerns the analyses of the classroom interaction patterns. In order to have the whole picture about the interaction patterns between the teacher and students in a lesson, apart from analyzing the whole class interactions, the student-student interactions and teacher-student interactions during group, pair or individual tasks should also be analyzed. Concluding remarks The present study investigated the classroom discourse patterns in the whole class teaching portion of three investigated lessons. The three-part I-R-F exchange structure proposed by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975) was still shown as being a useful descriptive tool in analyzing contemporary language classrooms though the classroom discourse patterns of modern language classrooms may not follow the I-R-F structure in a rigid manner. As can be discovered from the greater number of teacher initiations, the teachers in the three lessons talked much more than the students in the whole class interactions. In fact, teacher talk is essential in maintaining the structure and content of classroom interactions. Without it, the lesson may be run in a haphazard manner. It also provides quality language input. However, to bring about more dialogic forms of whole class teaching, students should be encouraged to expand their thinking by justifying or clarifying their opinions in the follow-up moves as well. References 1. 2. 3. 4. Abd-Kadir, J., & Hardman, F. (2007). The discourse of whole class teaching: A comparative study of Kenyan and Nigerian primary English lessons. Language and Education, 21(1), 1-15. Allison, D., & Martyn, E. (1993). The teaching of spoken English. In Teaching grammar and spoken English: A handbook for Hong Kong schools (pp. 43-73). Hong Kong: Education Department. Burns, C., & Myhill, D. (2004). Interactive or inactive? A consideration of the nature of interaction in whole class teaching. Cambridge Journal of Education, 34(1), 35-49. Cadorath, J., & Harris, S. (1998). Unplanned classroom language and teacher training. ELT Journal, 52(3), 188-196. 9

2008 IABR & TLC Conference Proceedings San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA 5. Cazden, C. B. (1988). Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning . Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 6. Chan, C. K. L. (1993). A study of teacher-student verbal interactions in a F.6 English classroom. Unpublished MEd dissertation, The University of Hong Kong. 7. Chaudron, C. (1988). Second language classrooms: Research on teaching and learning . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 8. Cullen, R. (1998). Teacher talk and the classroom context. ELT Journal, 52(3), 179-187. 9. Edwards, A. D., & Furlong, V. J. (1978). The language of teaching: Meaning in classroom interaction. London: Heinemann Educational. 10. Edwards, A. D., & Westgate, D. P. G. (1994). Investigating classroom talk. London; Washington D.C.: Falmer Press. 11. Ernst, G. (1994). Talking Circle: Conversation and negotiation in the ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 28(2), 293-322. 12. Hasan, A. S. (2006). Analysing bilingual classroom discourse. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(1), 7-18. 13. Johnson, K. E. (1995). Understanding communication in second language classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 14. Kanagy, R. (1999). Interactional routines as a mechanism for L2 acquisition and socialization in an immersion context. Journal of Pragmatics, 31, 1467-1492. 15. Mackey, A., McDonough, K., Fujii, A., & Tatsumi, T. (2001). Investigating learners reports about the L2 classroom. IRAL, 39, 285-308. 16. McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse analysis for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 17. McMillan, J. H. (2000). Educational research: Fundamentals for the consumer. New York: Longman. 18. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education . San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 19. Mickan, P. (2006). Socialisation through teacher talk in an Australian bilingual class. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9 (3), 342-358. 20. Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the language classroom: A conversation analysis perspective. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 21. Sinclair, J. M., & Coulthard, R. M. (1975). Towards an analysis of discourse: The English used by teachers and pupils. London: Oxford University Press. 22. Smith, H., & Higgins, S. (2006). Opening classroom interaction: The importance of feedback. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36(4), 485-502. 23. Thornbury, S. (1996). Teachers research teacher talk. ELT Journal, 50(4), 279-289. 24. Tsui, A. B. M. (1985). Analyzing input and interaction in second language classrooms. RELC Journal, 16(1), 8-32. 25. Tsui, A. B. M. (1995). Introducing classroom interaction. London: Penguin English. 26. Walsh, S. (2002). Construction or obstruction: Teacher talk and learner involvement in the EFL classroom. Language Teaching Research, 6(1), 3-23. 27. Willett, J. (1995). Becoming first graders in an L2: An ethnographic study of L2 socialization. TESOL Quarterly, 29(3), 473-503.

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