**I’ve updated the table after finishing the journal article on this topic, and presenting it at IATEFL in Liverpool in April, 2013. See here for a discussion of some of the themes. The paper should be published later this year.
Further to my previous post, I’ve been working through transcripts and video data of various classrooms and am at the moment finding Alexander’s repertoire of teaching talk (2008) to be very useful. On the surface it looks quite straightforward, though distinguishing between Discussion and Dialogue in actual talk is at times difficult, though for my purposes, very important. I’m looking at teacher and student talk in classrooms that meet the criteria for Dogme English Language Teaching. The three guiding principles of Dogme in ELT are that teaching reflects a ‘conversation-driven’ methodology, which is ‘materials light’, and focuses on ‘emergent language’ (Meddings & Thornbury 2009, p. 8). I’m looking at how we might tighten up our understandings of the first and the third principle, and as I said, Alexander’s work is proving useful.
Although Meddings and Thornbury argue that DELT is conversation driven, I am arguing through the classroom data that there should be a clear demarcation between the kind of talk represented by this term, and that representative of dialogue. Dialogic classrooms, according to the extensive research conducted by Alexander (2001; 2008; 2010) involve more than interactions with arbitrary and short-term goals often involving series of disconnected, short exchanges. This is often indicative of conversation-based classrooms, while dialogic classrooms involve discussion and dialogue, both of which require the learners to be engaged and active thinkers, and to be responsible for their learning. As Alexander explains, ‘by using discussion and dialogue we seek to empower learners both cognitively and socially, not merely to tell them things or test what they already know (2010, p. 3). This is important not only for the content classroom, but also the second language classroom.
Type of talk
|Rote||The drilling of language items through sustained repetition|
|Recitation and Elicitation||The accumulation of knowledge and understanding through questions designed to test or stimulate recall of what has been previously encountered, or to cue students to work out the answer from clues in the question.|
|Instruction/ Exposition||Telling the students what to do, and/or imparting information, often about target language items, and/or explaining facts or principles about language, and/or explaining the procedure of an activity, and/or modelling the talk and behaviours of an activity.|
|Discussion||The exchange of ideas with a view to sharing information and solving problems.|
|Inquiry Dialogue||Achieving common understanding through structured inquiry, wondering (playing with possibilities, reflecting, considering, exploring) and discussion that guide and prompt, build on each other’s contributions (cumulative talk), reduce choices, and expedite the ‘handover’ of concepts and principles.
Table 1: Kinds of Institutional Classroom Talk, adapted from Alexander (2001; 2008); Lindfors (1999); Mercer (2000)
Alexander, R.J., (2001), Culture and pedagogy : international comparisons in primary education, Wiley, Malden, MA
Alexander, R.J., (2008), Essays on pedagogy, Routledge, London
Lindfors, J. W. (1999). Children’s Inquiry : Using language to make sense of the world. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Mercer, N. (2000). Words and Minds: How we use language to think together. London: Routledge.
PLEASE DO NOT REPRODUCE THIS WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR