Document Type: Research Paper


1 Yazd University

2 University of Mazandaran


This paper investigates learner-initiated responses to English language teachers’ referential questions and learner initiatives after teachers’ feedback moves in meaning-focused question-answer sequences to analyze how interactional practices of language teachers, their initiation and feedback moves, facilitate learner initiatives. Classroom discourse research has largely neglected learner initiative in this pedagogically crucial arena. Addressing this pedagogical issue and drawing on sociocultural theory and situated learning theory, this qualitative study focuses on meaning-focused question-answer sequences to understand whether unfolding sequences, as structured by teachers, solicit learner-initiated participation. The data come from 10 videotaped and transcribed lessons from seven English teachers and their intermediate level students, at four private language institutes in Iran, which were analyzed within conversation analysis framework. Based on detailed analysis of classroom episodes, a very small number of learner initiatives was uncovered. The analysis revealed that several interactional practices by teachers (addressing the whole class, extending wait-time, encouraging student-student interaction, acknowledging response, giving positive feedback, and using continuers) tend to prompt learners’ initiation and learners can also create learning opportunities for themselves (following silence or following their own or other initiation). To characterize the findings, a typology of interactional acts that prompt solicited and unsolicited learner initiation is also provided. Some episodes are analyzed and the implications for teachers and teacher educators are also discussed.



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