A Study of Teacher Talk in Language Teaching from a Sociocultural Perspective
This study examined two grammar teachers' classroom discourse, attempting to understand how the teacher talk can make a difference in students' learning. Data were collected by observing and audio-taping two grammar classes, taught by two different teachers, one of whom has long had the reputation of being a wonderful and interactive teacher. The audio-recorded data were transcribed for analysis from a sociocultural perspective. Results showed that this wonderful teacher employed various discourse strategies such as questions and recasts, successfully engaging students in interactive co-construction of meaning and linguistic forms. Her questioning techniques reflected Wood et al's (1976) six scaffolding functions like keeping student interested in the task, simplifying the task when students had difficulty, highlighting the critical features and discrepancies between what students' production and the ideal solution, and reducing students' frustration. The teacher, adopting a Vygotskian approach, constructed effective scaffolded assistance in students' zone of proximal development (ZPD). In contrast, the other teacher adopted an inductive approach to grammar instruction. He usually provided direct grammar explanation, and numerous skill-getting exercises, thus seldom creating opportunities for participation, interaction, and negotiation.
Keywords: Teacher Talk, Grammar Instruction, Sociocultural Theory
Prof. Mei-yun Ko
Associate Professor, Department of Applied Foreign Languages, Natinal Formosa University,Taiwan
Prof. Tzu-fu Wang
Department of Applied Foreign Languages, National Yunlin University of Science and Technology