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Walking The Talk - Rethinking TTT for EAP (S.Kirk @stiiiv)


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There is a stigma attached to the notion of teacher talking time. We seem to have inherited a belief from EFL that student talking time is largely always good and that teacher talking time is largely always bad.

If we conceive of EAP as primarily concerned with language learning then there is a danger we see student production only as language work, as an opportunity for work on either ‘accuracy’ or ‘fluency’. In this view, the practice of maximising student talking time and minimising teacher talking time is likely to mirror that in EFL teaching. We thus retain a dichotomy between the two.

If we conceive of EAP as also involving apprenticeship into the kinds of practices required of students in their academic departments, however, then what students say becomes far more important. Learner interpretation of text, in particular, is core to the academic process for many disciplines and the EAP teacher willing to engage with this content can serve as a powerful intermediary between text and student understanding. Indeed, our own experience suggests that autonomous learner engagement with academic reading in the preparation of writing may often be ineffective without teacher-scaffolded interaction during class.

EAP teachers don’t just talk; they mediate learning. A more refined view of how they can do this is needed. We do not have to choose between being ‘a lecturer’ and ‘setting up and getting out of the way’. Drawing on insights from teacher practice and on extracts of EAP teaching materials, I show how recognising the functions of teacher talk enables us to scaffold learners at point of need, engaging them in teacher-mediated discussion that serves to create a crucial third space between the unhelpfully dichotomised notions of student talking time and teacher talking time.

Published in: Education
  • @AndyMilewski Thanks Andy. Good of you to comment. I agree. I think more teachers should be 'meddling in the middle' more of the time - even in 'General English' contexts. I think the Demand High ELT movement may begin to take people in that direction. For ESP and EAP, however, I feel it's crucial - and that we may be underserving students without a clearer understanding of how teachers can (and should) mediate practice.

    I'm now in the process of writing this up for the conference proceedings...
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  • Very helpful and informative slide share presentation, not just for EAP but could also be applied to ESP contexts.
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Walking The Talk - Rethinking TTT for EAP (S.Kirk @stiiiv)

  1. 1. Walking theTalk…Steve Kirk (@stiiiv)Durham University, UK(20 April 2013. BALEAP Nottingham)(refining notions ofTTT in EAP)
  2. 2. 1) Sidelines teacher knowledgeConsequences:EFL inheritanceconstructivistpedagogycognitivistSLA2) Reduces expertise to the how(classroom methodology)
  3. 3. (
  4. 4. Teacher Talk:Knock-on effect:EFL inheritanceconstructivistpedagogycognitivistSLA‘gets in the way’ of naturallearning processes
  5. 5. See TT as being in binaryopposition to ST?EAP Teacher TalkDoes our TEFL heritageencourage us to:See the former as serving only toset up / elicit the latter?Inadvertently overlook thefunctions of teacher talk?
  6. 6. Perfect DELTA lessonEAP e.g.Group speaking task(Law class)butEAP Ss need (deserve?) more
  7. 7. Problem:EAP e.g.Group speaking task(Law class)No content-oriented challengeLearners wallow in the comfortof familiar anecdote
  8. 8. In EAP we need:EAP e.g.Group speaking task(Law class)linguistic challenge +cognitive challenge
  9. 9. In EAP we need:EAP e.g.Group speaking task(Law class)content learninglearning as apprenticeship(habitus building)
  10. 10. Changes how we see:teacher knowledgeclass prep. & practiceteacher talkEAPlanguagepracticeacademicpractice
  11. 11. teacher talkfocus on
  12. 12. focus on
  13. 13. teacher mediationfocus on
  14. 14. student performancematerials(EAP)
  15. 15. student performancetext(EAP)
  16. 16. teacher mediationstudent performancelearning objective(EAP)
  17. 17. Interactional Competence(e.g. Seedhouse 2004)Existingframeworks:
  18. 18. Self-Eval. of Teacher Talk (SETT)(Walsh 2006)Existingframeworks:
  19. 19. Add a Vygotskian perspective:Existingframeworks:teacher role butdescriptive (DA)surface focus on funct. & form
  20. 20. IRF pattern in classroom discourse(Sinclair & Coulthard 1975)Existingframeworks:
  21. 21. Functions & Categories of T-Talk(Cullen 1998)Existingframeworks:
  22. 22. Importance of the ‘F-move’(Cullen 2002)Existingframeworks:
  23. 23. moves us towards:Existingframeworks:functions of T-Talkbutserves only in interests of ling.input / output modification+ concern with content
  24. 24. cognitive apprenticeship(e.g. Collins et al 1991)A way forward forEAP T-Talk:
  25. 25. ModellingCoachingScaffoldingArticulationReflectionExplorationStudentAutonomy(fading support)
  26. 26. ModellingCoachingScaffoldingArticulationReflectionExplorationobservation &guided practicegaining conscious access to and controlover (e.g.) problem-solving strategiesEncouraging learner autonomy
  27. 27. (task)
  28. 28. 1| ‘Modelling’…involves an expert’s performing a task so that the students canobserve and build a conceptual model of the processes that arerequired to accomplish it. In cognitive domains, this requires theexternalization of usually internal processes and activities-specifically, the heuristics and control processes by whichexperts apply their basic conceptual and procedural knowledge.For example, a teacher might model the reading process byreading aloud in one voice, while verbalizing her thoughtprocesses in another voice (Collins and Smith, 1982). Inmathematics, as described above, Schoenfeld models theprocess of solving problems by having students bring difficultnew problems for him to solve in class.
  29. 29. 4| Articulation…involves any method of getting students to articulate theirknowledge, reasoning, or problem-solving processes. We haveidentified several different methods of articulation. First, inquiryteaching (Collins and Stevens, 1982, 1983) is a strategy ofquestioning students to lead them to articulate and refine theirunderstanding of concepts and procedures in different domains.For example, an inquiry teacher in reading might systematicallyquestion students about why one summary of the text is goodbut another is poor, to get the students to formulate an explicitmodel of a good summary. Second, teachers might encouragestudents to articulate their thoughts as they carry out theirproblem solving […]”
  30. 30. is not teachingmaterials delivery
  31. 31. learning is messymaterials deliveryis easy, tidy
  32. 32. we need to getour hands dirty(e.g.)
  33. 33. ExplorationModellingCoachingScaffoldingArticulationReflection
  34. 34. There’s atime to showa time to tella time toco-explorea time tostand backbut always with learners’experiencing in mind
  35. 35. but knowledgemay be tacit…some teachers dothis naturally
  36. 36. some don’tsome teachers dothis naturally(CgA techniques canhelp us with both)
  37. 37. Problem:materials ‘delivery’overly linear task progression(no sense of task weight)e.g. x2…Application inplanning…
  38. 38. Orienting (to the) Academic focus of the Lesson
  39. 39. Orienting (to the) Academic focus of the Lesson(OrAcLe / ‘concentric planning’)
  40. 40. e.g.
  41. 41. (summary)
  42. 42. EAPlanguagepracticeacademicpracticeT-talk as mediatingcontent (and lg) learningCognitiveApprenticeshipConcentricPlanning(‘what’s the OrAcLe?’)
  43. 43. making teaching explicitmodelling what good Ts dodiscussing materials enactment(pre-/post- teaching)experimentingCgA provides away of:
  44. 44. seeing teacher talk as:mediating learning…dynamicallyand at point of needCgA provides away of:
  45. 45. Thx.Steve Kirk (@stiiiv)
  46. 46. ReferencesCollins, A., J. Seely Brown and A. Holum (1991) ‘Cognitive Apprenticeship: makingthinking visible’. American Editor. Reprinted online at:, R. (1998) ‘Teacher Talk and the Classroom Context’. ELT Journal 52(3): 179-187.Cullen, R. (2002) ‘Supportive Teacher Talk: the importance of the f-move’. ELT Journal56(2): 117-127.Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the language classroom: Aconversation analysis perspective. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Sinclair, J. M., & Coulthard, M. (1975). Towards an analysis of discourse: The Englishused by teachers and pupils. London: Oxford University Press.Walsh, S. (2006). Investigating classroom discourse. New York: Routledge.