Vol. 1. No. 4 A-1 June 1995
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L2 Classroom Transcripts: Data in Search of a Methodology?

Paul Seedhouse
University of York
<pks3@york.ac.uk>

Abstract

This article presents reasons why the development of a methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 classroom interaction would be desirable. L2 classroom interaction is unique in that linguistic forms are the goal as well as the vehicle of instruction, and in that the linguistic patterns of interaction produced by learners are linked to the pedagogical purposes which the teacher introduces. It is therefore proposed that a unique methodology, which would be able to link pedagogical purposes to linguistic forms and patterns of interaction, needs to be developed. Such a methodology should also be able to depict how pedagogical purposes and contexts vary between lessons and within lessons, and how varieties of communication are created as a result. The methodology should in addition be able to adopt a multiple perspective and rule-based approach, incorporating participant perspectives and triangulation, in order to achieve validity and reliability. This article seeks to outline the features and qualities of such a methodology: it does not, however, propose a concrete or detailed methodology.

1. A Methodology is required for the Description, Analysis and Evaluation of L2 Interaction.

I would first like to present five reasons why a methodology is needed for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 interaction.

1.1 Communication is important as a basis, vehicle and goal of L2 teaching

Recent approaches to E.L.T. have presented communication in the classroom as one of the most essential concepts in language teaching. As Kumaravadivelu (1993, p. 12) says: "...theorists and practitioners alike almost unanimously emphasise communication of one kind or another." At the same time, though, the assumption appears to have been made that communication is a straightforward[-1-] and uniform concept which is easily definable and identifiable. In fact, none of the most prominent texts of the Communicative Approach (Littlewood, 1981; Brumfit and Johnson, 1979; Widdowson, 1978) provides a definition or characterisation of `communication'.

However, investigation of the psychological literature on communication shows that it is a complex and elusive phenomenon, and that there are many different varieties, levels and definitions of communication. The E.L.T. world has tended to equate communication with "the exchange of ideas, information, etc. between two or more persons" (Richards, 1985, p. 48). However, "there is no consensus as to its definition" (Harre & Lamb, 1983, p. 102) and there are many possible alternative definitions of communication: "communication is the mechanism by which power is exerted" (Aubrey Fisher, 1978, p. 7), "the establishment of a social unit from individuals by the use of language or signs" (Aubrey Fisher, 1978, p. 8), "communication is a name for the overall system of relationships people develop between each other and with the community and habitat in which they live" (Harre & Lamb, 1983, p. 104). There are three distinct approaches to the study of communication. Identifying communication is also problematic, since there is a general consensus (Hannemann & McEwen, 1975; Watzlawick et al., 1980; Ellis & Beattie, 1986) that it is impossible not to communicate: "Activity or inactivity, words or silence all have message value: they influence others and these others, in turn, cannot not respond to these communications and are thus themselves communicating" (Watzlawick et al., 1980, p. 23). This means that communication takes place whether or not it is "intentional, conscious or successful" (ibid). Communication of some kind is therefore always taking place in the language classroom whatever we do there--even if we stand on our heads wiggling our toes at the students.

We are therefore in the paradoxical situation of having adopted communication as a major basis, vehicle, and goal of what we do in the L2 classroom while we have no adequate conceptual or practical framework or methodology for describing, analysing or evaluating the communication which takes place in the L2 classroom: "We still do not have any detailed knowledge about the structure of interaction and communication in the foreign language classroom" (Krumm, 1981). It may be objected at this point that emphasis on communication could be another passing fad in L2 teaching. However, English is increasingly being used by learners throughout the world as a lingua franca, an international means of communication, rather than a linguistic system to be studied in abstraction for its own intrinsic merit. It is likely, therefore, that communication will remain a vital concept in L2 teaching. [-2-]

1.2 The learning takes place via the interaction

At the same time, interest in ELT has shifted away from the consideration of teaching methods in isolation towards a focus on classroom interaction as the most vital element in the instructed second language learning process:

Bluntly, classroom interaction is important because interaction is the sine qua non of classroom pedagogy. Interaction is the process whereby lessons are `accomplished', to use Mehan's very apt term. (Allwright, 1984, p. 159)

Because we do not have an adequate conceptual or practical framework or methodology for describing, analysing, or evaluating the interaction which takes place in the L2 classroom, we are not able to make the L2 learning and teaching processes transparent or demonstrate how L2 learning takes place through the interaction. If and when we are able to describe, analyse and evaluate the different kinds of interaction which occur in the L2 classroom, it may then be possible to relate these to second language acquisition processes: "One of the key questions has become `What kinds of interaction promote L2 learning?'" (Ellis, 1992, p. 37).

1.3 We have little knowledge of what actually goes on in L2 classrooms

We have little and piecemeal knowledge of what actually goes on in L2 classrooms:

We actually know remarkably little about typical practice in language learning, and there is a great need for additional comparative studies. (Brumfit & Mitchell,1989, p. 12)

Our ignorance of what actually happens in classrooms is spectacular. (Stubbs, 1983a, p. 91)

Part of the problem here is that we are lacking a large database of L2 lessons (see section 9.3), but it is also a problem that we do not have a comprehensive methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 lessons, which brings us to the the fourth point.

1.4 There is currently no valid basis for the evaluation of L2 classroom interaction

Because we do not have a methodology or framework for describing and analysing L2 classroom interaction, we do not have a basis for evaluating the interaction: "We are just at the beginning of classroom research where we can describe what actually [-3-] goes on, but not yet whether that is `good' or `bad'" (Van Lier, 1988, p. 178). Since there is no agreed basis for evaluating interaction, it often happens that different writers dispute the value of a particular text. (See section 3 for an example of this, as well as for further discussion of the problem of evaluation.)

1.5 There is no technical language for the description of L2 classroom interaction

It has frequently been noted that L2 teaching is lacking in technical language for the description of what actually takes place in the classroom:

Research in classrooms has been limited by not having an agreed-upon set of activity types..., so little comparison was possible among studies.... Moreover, while the pedagogical literature on language abounds with various proposals for communicative language activities, it appears to have avoided a concise taxonomy of types. (Chaudron, 1988, p. 187)

An associated problem is that while we have an `argot' of activity types, it frequently turns out in practice that teachers use the identical term to mean different things. This is well illustrated by Mitchell (1988), who found that Scottish secondary school teachers of French tended to view the activity type of `role play' in two different ways:

... disagreement began when teachers started to describe the procedure for the activity itself. Broadly speaking they fell into two groups: those who saw the point of role play being to give pupils an opprtunity for improvisation and for creative FL use, and those who saw it as a dramatic production complete with pre-scripted `lines' to be reproduced. (Mitchell, 1988, pp. 26- 27)

Breen's (1989) conception of the three phases of a classroom task is relevant here. Breen proposes a temporal structure of task-as-workplan (before classroom implementation), task-in-process (what actually happens in the classroom) and task outcomes (the product of the classroom activity). The basic problem is that L2 teaching has been primarily concerned with the task-as-workplan. The evidence for this is the huge variety of resource books which have been published over recent years which catalogue an ever-increasing number and diversity of tasks-as-workplans. We have very little evidence of how these are translated into tasks-in-process: what kind of interaction do they actually produce in the classroom? What I am suggesting, then, is that L2 teaching will never be able to have a technical language or taxonomy of activity types by examining tasks-as-workplans: this will only be possible through analysis of classroom [-4-] interaction, which would be able to reveal the nature of the task-in-process. It may be, then, that the teaching process (as well as the learning process) can only be accurately described through description of L2 classroom interaction.

2. A methodology would need to be based on the unique feature of L2 classroom interaction

There are a number of reasons, then, why a methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 classroom interaction would be desirable. It could be simplest, for example, to adapt an existing scheme of analysis by Sinclair and Coulthard's (1975) scheme for L1 classrooms:

The development in this (discourse analysis) tradition of a more systematic analysis of the entire discourse of classroom interaction, exemplified for L1 classrooms by Sinclair and Coulthard (1975), has yet to result in comprehensive analytical systems for the L2 classroom. (Chaudron, 1988, p. 14)

However I contend that although there are a number of competing systems for the analysis of discourse, none of them is able to incorporate the unique feature of L2 classroom interaction: the connection between the pedagogical purposes which underlie different classroom activities and the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction which result from those classroom activities.

The pedagogical purposes of the language classroom are distinguished from the history or geography or science classroom by their direct link to the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction produced. In a history or geography lesson the linguistic forms serve as a vehicle for the transmission of information-the focus is on the transactional message carried, and the linguistic forms themselves are relatively unimportant. In the L2 classroom, however, linguistic forms have a dual role. They can serve as a vehicle, but they can also be the focus and aim of the lesson itself. Long (1983, p. 9) states that "... second language classrooms differ from most others in that language is both the vehicle and object of instruction."

In the following (authentic) extracts we can see teachers imposing specific pedagogical purposes. The teacher then expects the learners to produce specific linguistic items or patterns of interaction as a result. In the first extract the teacher's pedagogical purposes are apparently to get the learner (via L2 prompts and non-verbal messages) to produce specific variations on a sequence of linguistic forms. [-5-]

Extract 1

T Do you make your bed every morning <nods>

L Yes, I make my bed every morning

T <shakes his head>

L No, I don't make my bed every morning

T Does your father make your bed every morning

L Yes, my father makes my bed every morning

T Does your little brother make your bed every morning

<demonstrates a small brother>

L Yes, my little brother makes my bed every morning

T <shakes his head vigorously>

L No, my little brother doesn't make my bed every morning

L I have no little brother

(Bolte & Herrlitz, 1986, p. 206)

Clearly, the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction which the learner produces here are not `meaningful', and the learner appears to become frustrated (in the last line) that the linguistic forms he/she is compelled to produce actually contradict real-world meaning in his/her situation. However, the point is that the linguistic forms produced do correspond to the pedagogical purposes which the teacher introduces.

In the second extract the teacher's pedagogical purposes are apparently to get the learner (via L2 prompts) to produce a specific sequence of linguistic forms.

Extract 2

1 T What did I dream? Can you remember?

2 L1 You turned into a toothbrush

3 T Can I have a full sentence, Hugo? [-6-]

4 L1 That you turned into a toothbrush

5 T OK. You .....?

6 L2 You turned into a toothbrush.

7 T You .....?

8 L2 You turned into a toothbrush.

9 L3 You dreamed.

10 T You dreamt.

11 L3 You dreamt.

12 T Everyone

13 LL Dreamt

14 T OK. I dreamt that I turned into a toothbrush.

(Ellis, 1984, p. 105)

This extract demonstrates the very tight connections which can occur between the teacher's pedagogical purposes and the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction which the learners produce.

In line 2, L1 produces an answer which would be perfectly acceptable in conversation. However, this is not the target pattern of interaction which the teacher's pedagogical purposes intend to produce, and the teacher does not accept the answer. Similarly, in line 9, L3 produces a perfectly acceptable past simple form, but this particular linguistic form is not the one targetted by the teacher's pedagogical purposes, and the teacher corrects it in line 10.

Although the above extracts appear to have focused on syntax, the teacher can introduce a wide variety of pedagogical purposes:

Extract 3

T Say it again. He joined the army a few months ago.

L1 He joined the army a few month ago.

T Good.

T Months [-7-]

L1 Months

T Months. It's a difficult one isn't it?

LL Months, months.

T Yah, good.

L1 Months ago.

T Virginia, can you say months? Months.

L2 Months.

(Willis, 1987, p. 154)

Here the teacher's pedagogical purposes appear to be aimed at phonological correctness for the linguistic forms which the learner produces. So we can see here on a small scale that when the teacher varies the pedagogical purpose which s\he wishes the learner to apply to a text, the resultant discourse is expected to vary in a corresponding and predictable way. We can also see the importance of linguistic forms and patterns of interaction, which are important as the basis for interaction, as texts for study by the learner, and, when produced by the learners themselves, as the basis of evaluation by the teacher.

The objection may be raised at this point that the above examples are typical of old-fashioned uncommunicative teaching, and that in modern `communicative' teaching the teacher fades into the background as a facilitator, does not impose any pedagogical purposes or control the interaction. Such an objection can be countered by showing that the teacher always introduces pedagogical purposes which are linked to resultant patterns of interaction, whatever method he/she is using. I would now like to examine an extract from a `communicative' lesson, in which the teacher is physically entirely absent from the interaction: teenage girl learners are discussing fashion photographs.

Extract 4

L1 I like this fashion because I can wear it for sleep not to go anywhere.

L2 Ooh!

L3 I like this fashion. [-8-]

L2 I like this.

L4 Why?

L5 I like this.

L2 Because - because..

L1 The girl..

L4 This is good this fashion.

L2 This is a beautiful skirt.

L1 Beautiful, but when I done it - I put it long long but -

L4 This one better than that one. Who like this one?

L1 Aah, I like this.

(Warren, 1985, p. 223)

Warren states clearly what his pedagogical purposes were with these learners: a collection of women's fashion photographs was selected in order to be provocative to the students. The students were left alone with a tape recorder. The writer devised the activity "to stimulate natural discourse in the classroom." (p. 45) and "...the only instruction was that the students should look at the photographs and that anything they might say had to be in English." (p. 47). Warren hoped that the exercise "... might lead to the voicing of likes and dislikes." (p. 45).

We can see clearly the link between the teacher's pedagogical purposes and the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction produced by the learners: the learners speak only in English, discuss the photographs and express likes and dislikes. Depending on how one defines `natural discourse', the discourse is natural when compared with extracts 1-3. However, regardless of the methods--even if the teacher claims to be relinquishing control of the classroom interaction--the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction which the learners produce will inevitably be linked in some way to the pedagogical purposes which the teacher introduces into the L2 classroom environment. Indeed, if the teacher does not introduce any pedagogical purposes, the speech event which takes place cannot be considered an L2 lesson.

I do not want to suggest that the introduction of pedagogical purposes is the sole prerogative of the teacher: recent process syllabus approaches (Breen, 1987) stress the importance of involving learners in the selection of syllabus and classroom tasks. My point is, however, that whoever introduces the pedagogical purposes to the [-9-] classroom, there will always be a link between them and the resultant linguistic forms and patterns of interaction.

In summary, L2 classroom interaction has a unique feature, namely the connection between the pedagogical purposes which underlie different classroom activities and the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction which result from those classroom activities. This remains the case whatever `method' the teacher is using, and any methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 interaction must be able to handle this unique feature.

3. A methodology is required for the evaluation of L2 classroom interaction

This brings us to the delicate question of evaluation: if a system for the description and analysis of L2 classroom discourse is to be of any practical use, then it must be capable of being used to evaluate L2 classroom discourse: evaluation of discourse is after all what the L2 classroom is about : "Everyone involved in language teaching and learning will readily agree that evaluation and feedback are central to the process and progress of language learning" (Van Lier, 1988, p. 32).

It is essential, in order for fair evaluation to take place, that the teacher's pedagogical purposes be related to the linguistic forms and patterns of interaction the learners produce. To demonstrate the problems inherent in attempting to evaluate different varieties of classroom interaction according to the same criteria, I will examine a published example of the comparison and evaluation of two L2 lesson transcripts. This comparison and evaluation is unfair because the fact that the teachers' pedagogical purposes differ has not been taken into account.

Kumaravadivelu (1993) examines L2 lesson transcripts of two teachers. T1 was trained in Kumaravadivelu's `macrostrategies' whereas T2 was not. Kumaravadivelu states that his analysis of the two transcripts revealed that T1's lesson interaction was "remarkably more communicative than" (p. 18) T2's lesson. Kumaravadivelu claims that the relative success of T1's lesson and the relative failure of T2's lesson "can be attributed to the use and non-use of the macrostrategies framework" (p. 18). However, T1's lesson was a "speaking" lesson, the purpose of which was "...to develop conversational skills" (p. 15). T2's lesson was a "grammar" lesson: "The purpose of the grammar course was to develop functional abilities in the use of selected grammatical structures" (p. 15). Kumaravadivelu notes critically that T2 "...starts with a long period of explanation and instruction" (p. 17). [-10-]

The fact that T1's lesson and T2's lesson produce different types of interaction can simply be attributed to the fact that T1's pedagogical purposes in the speaking lesson are necessarily different to T2's pedagogical purposes in the grammar lesson. One normally expects a "speaking" lesson to be "communicative" and to feature a lot of speaking by the learners, but one does not normally have the same expectation of a "grammar" lesson. Kumaravadivelu does not actually make explicit his criteria or methodology when claiming that one lesson is remarkably more communicative than the other, but it is, I suggest, unfair and invalid to evaluate the two transcripts according to the same criteria.

Thus, it is not valid to evaluate the patterns of interaction of lessons which have differing pedagogical purposes according to the identical criteria. Analysis and evaluation need to operate on a much more delicate level of analysis than the "lesson", since pedagogical purposes may well change within the duration of a lesson. Nunan (1988, p. 139) examines a transcript of the teacher's preamble in an L2 lesson, introducing the class to the information gap activity which comes later in the lesson:

Extract 5

T: today, er, we're going to um, we're going to do something where, we, er, listen to a conversation and we also talk about the subject of the conversation er, in fact, we're not going to listen to one conversation, how many conversations are we going to listen to?

S: three

T: how do you know?

S: because, er, you will need, er, three tapes and three points

T: three?

S: points

T: what?

S: power points

T: power points, if I need three power points and three tape recorders, you correctly assume that I"m going to give you three conversations, and that's true, and all the conversation will be different, but they will all be on the same...?[-11-]

SS: subject, subject

T: the same...?

S: subject, subject

T: right, they will all be on the same subject

(Nunan, 1988, p. 139)

Nunan's main point is that "... the exchanges are essentially non-communicative, despite the best intentions of the teacher" (p. 140). Seedhouse (1994, p. 306) objects to Nunan's analysis in the following terms:

...the interaction of each part of a lesson should be evaluated according to what the teacher is trying to achieve in it: different sections should be judged by different criteria. In the case of this lesson, it is probable that the teacher would only be aiming at `genuine' communication in the learner-learner interaction with the information-gap, and that he/she had a different aim in the introductory preamble, which is giving procedural informa- tion. .....The reason the teacher is asking display questions instead of lecturing is to involve and interest the learners in the activity in order to maximise motivation and the potential for interaction in that particular stage of the lesson. (Seedhouse, 1994, p. 306-7)

There is a problem with Seedhouse's analysis of extract 5 as much as with Nunan's analysis, however. Both are interpretations from an outsider's (or researcher's) perspective rather than from a participant's perspective. The teacher has not made explicit to the reader what his/her pedagogical purposes were. It could be that the teacher's pedagogical purposes in this extract were to replicate `genuine communication': in this case we could, using Nunan's criteria for evaluation (see section 2), evaluate the interaction as fairly unsuccessful. Alternatively, the teacher's pedagogical purposes might have been as Seedhouse interpreted them; in this case, the interaction can be evaluated as successful.

This demonstrates that in order to describe, analyse or evaluate L2 classroom interaction in a fair and valid manner, it is essential to have an explicit statement of the teacher's pedagogical purposes. This could be a direct statement from the teacher, as with Warren (1985), or a methodology developed to identify the pedagogical purposes to which the teacher is oriented, without a direct explanation from the teacher. (See section 8 for an example of how this might work.)[-12-]

Any methodology for the evaluation of L2 classroom interaction should be able to depict how pedagogical purposes are linked in principled ways to resultant linguistic forms and patterns of interaction. Such a methodology must also be able to show how pedagogical purposes vary between lessons and during the course of lessons. Furthermore, it is necessary to have an explicit statement of the teacher's pedagogical purposes in order for valid evaluation to take place.

4. The analysis of classroom interaction to date: coding systems

By far the most common method of classroom analysis has been through the development of coding systems or quantification schemes. Long (1983) states that there are over 200 instruments for describing the classroom behaviours of teachers and students, and that:

There are now at least twenty such systems for coding teacher and student behavior in second language classrooms, whether verbal interaction is classified as discrete linguistic/pedagogic events or treated as interrelated units of discourse. (1983, p. 5)

Coding systems have been subject to considerable criticism by sociolinguists. The following list summarises the main criticisms:

  1. "Since the classroom talk is generally not recorded but `coded' by the observer on the spot in real time, the actual language used by teachers and pupils is irretrievably lost" Stubbs (1983a, p. 92).

  2. "The functions of language are not captured..." (Mehan, 1979, p. 10), the communicative value of remarks may be missed, and coding systems "... fail to reflect accurately the multiple, simultaneous functions that language serves in the classroom" (Mehan, 1979, p. 14).

  3. The relationship of behaviour to context is lost (Mehan, 1979, p. 10).

  4. "When frequencies are merely tabulated, the overall organisation of classroom events is lost" (Mehan, 1979, p. 13).

  5. "...such behavior as is recorded is interpreted from the observer's perspective rather than that of the participants in the interaction" (Long, 1983, p. 12). [-13-]

  6. "...the systems themselves are no less subjective than the impressionistic comments they were designed to replace. Observational instruments are, in fact, no more (or less) than theoretical claims about second language learning and teaching. Their authors hypothesize that the behaviors recorded by their categories are variables affecting the success of classroom language learning. Very little has been done to test those hypotheses" (Long, 1983, p. 10).

  7. "Interaction analysis systems are usually concerned only with overt, observable behaviour. They do not take directly into account the differing intentions that may lie behind such behaviour" (Delamont & Hamilton, 1976, p. 8).

  8. "...failure to address the complexity of classroom interaction" (Van Lier, 1988, p. 45).

  9. "Both the source and range of variables incorporated in second language systems tend to reflect those found by others in instruments for use in content classrooms...it is surprising that so much borrowing should have taken place when one considers that second language classrooms differ from most others in that language is both the vehicle and object of instruction. If for no other reason, one might have expected more second language systems to reflect different levels of language use..." (Long, 1983, p. 9).

    To these criticisms I would add two of my own:

  10. Coding systems do not show the connection between pedagogical purposes and linguistic patterns of interaction, which I have argued is the essential characteristic of the language classroom.

  11. Coding systems evaluate all varieties of L2 classroom interaction according to a single set of criteria, even though this is rarely explicitly stated. Perhaps the most sophisticated instrument for the observation of L2 classrooms, the COLT instrument, does imply that it uses a single set of criteria: "... an observation instrument designed to capture differences in the communicative orientation of L2 interaction in a variety of settings" (Froehlich, Spada & Allen, 1985, p. 27). Communicative orientation, then, is the sole evaluatory criterion used, and COLT does not have any mechanism for showing that a preamble should evaluated in a different way to an information-gap activity (see section 3). Although COLT includes 21 different categories for different kinds of student activities, there is no mechanism for indicating that the different kinds of interaction resulting from them would need to be evaluated differently. [-14-]

I do not wish to suggest that coding or quantification schemes are of no value. On the contrary, there are a great number of coding schemes which are effective for purposes for which they have been developed, e.g., facilitating observation, teacher training, isolating specific behaviour, capturing differences in the communicative orientation of L2 interaction (see Malamah Thomas (1987) for examples). I would merely like to suggest that, for the reasons given above, they cannot constitute the basis of a methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 classroom interaction.

5. Different varieties of communication occur in the L2 classroom.

Although none of the coding schemes explicitly says so, the underlying assumption appears to be that all communication in the L2 classroom is undifferentiated and can be judged according to a single, monolithic criterion. This `bucket' approach (Drew & Heritage, 1992) to context and interaction has recently been challenged by four writers researching into L2 classrooms:

A. Van Lier (1988, p. 156) identifies four different types of L2 classroom interaction as follows, supporting his description with authentic examples:

  1. . Less topic-orientation, less activity-orientation, for example, small talk.
  2. . More topic-orientation, less activity-orientation, for example, instructions.
  3. . More topic-orientation, more activity-orientation, for example, interviews.
  4. . Less topic-orientation, more activity-orientation, for example, repetition and substitution drills.
p>

B. Ellis (1984, pp. 102-126) identifies five different types of L2 classroom interaction:

  1. Interaction with medium-centred goals: i.e., linguistic focus.
  2. Interaction with message-centred goals: i.e., focus on teaching subject content that is part of the school curriculum.
  3. Interaction with activity-centred goals: i.e., task focus.
  4. Interaction involving framework goals: i.e., organisational focus.
  5. Interaction involving social goals.

C. Tsui Bik-may (1987, p. 345) identifies three different types of L2 classroom interaction: [-15-]

  1. Negotiating: "...in exchanges where the value of the utterance depends on here-and-now interpretation of the hearer and the negotiation between the speaker and the hearer, the interaction is `negotiating'."
  2. Non-negotiating: matching: "... those in which the student's response is matched against what the teacher considers to be appropriate can be labelled `matching' exchanges."
  3. Non-negotiating: direct-verbal: "... those which solicit verbal production from the student can be labelled `direct-verbal' exchanges."

Seedhouse (1994, pp. 311-315) identifies four different types of L2 classroom interaction:

Classroom mode 1: Real-World Target Speech Community.

Learner interaction should resemble real-world interaction.

Classroom mode 2: Classroom as Speech Community.

Participants talk about their immediate classroom speech community and their immediate environment, personal relationships, feelings and meanings.

Classroom mode 3: Task-Oriented Speech Community

Definition of communication in this classroom mode: Task-based interaction.

Classroom mode 4: Form and Accuracy Speech Community

Focus on the presentation and practice of linguistic forms.

Current approaches to L2 interaction, then, reject the `bucket' notion of context (Drew and Heritage, 1992) and communication in favour of a variable and dynamic view of context and communication.

The purpose of this section so far has been to demonstrate that there are different varieties of communication occuring in the L2 classroom, and that it is therefore unsound to attempt to evaluate all varieties of communication according to the same criterion. It is not the purpose of this article to suggest which of the above systems of description might be more correct than others. For the moment we need merely make the following three observations:

  1. Four different writers have looked at the same type of data-- L2 classroom interaction--and have produced four different descriptive systems. It is not obvious from examining transcripts of L2 classroom data how exactly the [-16-] different varieties of communication can be described; the writers do not even agree on how many varieties there are. This observation does underline the desirablility of a single, comprehensive and coherent methodology.

  2. None of the writers indicates exactly what amount or variety of data they have based their descriptions on (although Van Lier mentions that his study is based on "a small core of lessons" (1988, p. 4). It is unclear what amount of naturalistic data would be necessary for the production of a valid sytem of description of L2 classroom interaction: "One of the problems with L2 classroom research is that there is such a tremendous variety of L2 classrooms" (Van Lier, 1988, p. 5). The question of a database is considered in section 9.3.

  3. The four writers do not state explicitly which research methodologies they have used to arrive at their descriptive systems. Since all four writers quote classroom transcripts, I assume that the methodology used was self-reflection following the examination of naturalistic data. The main problems with this methodology (following Shimanoff, 1980) are as follows:

a) the quality of self-reflection or personal reference research can be judged according to the degree of intersubjectivity achieved, i.e., whether other researchers agree with the system proposed. None of the researchers indicates whether his or her descriptive system has been validated by peers, and the fact that the systems are mutually contradictory to some extent may indicate that inter-subjectivity has not yet been achieved by any of the descriptive systems.

b) the problem of what Shimanoff (1980, p. 73) calls "Researcher's Versus Actor's Interpretation." There has been much recent emphasis on the need to capture the participants' perspectives on classroom discourse (Morine-Dershimer & Tenenberg, 1981), and none of the writers indicate whether the teachers and students involved in the transcripts have validated the writer's description of what is happening in the lesson.

Any methodology for the description and analysis of L2 classroom interaction would have to tackle the three problems identified above. The methodology would have to be able to describe the different varieties of communication which occur in L2 classrooms in such a way that (a) the participant's perspectives were accurately portrayed (b) the methodology and database were made explicit and transparent (c) intersubjectivity was achieved i.e., fellow researchers would have to validate the description. [-17-] It is clear that different varieties of communication occur in L2 classrooms, although there is no consensus as to how to describe these different varieties. A methodology for the description of the different varieties of communication in L2 classrooms would need to incorporate the participants' perspectives, achieve inter- subjectivity, and make its methodology and database explicit.

6. Contexts change within the L2 classroom

A dynamic approach to context is typical of contemporary sociolinguistics. According to Drew and Heritage:

Goffman's frame theory has contributed to an increasingly sophisticated and dynamic approach to the analysis of social context. Instead of treating context as unitary and invariant, he has suggested a conceptual framework which captures the changing activity frames with their associated systems of relevance that can emerge within a given setting. (1992, p. 9)

I will now examine research into the identification of contexts in L1 classrooms, and consider its relevance to the description of interaction in L2 classrooms. Green suggests that the classroom is "a differentiated communication environment with shifting requirements and obligations for participation" (Green, 1983, pp. 182-3) and that contexts shift within lessons: "Recent research has shown that contexts shift for the participants within as well as across the boundaries of lessons..." (Green & Wallat, 1981, p. 169). Green further suggests that contexts are actively constructed by participants:

The contexts of the interaction are constructed by people as they engage in face-to-face interaction. Contexts viewed from this perspective are not given in the physical setting (e.g., rug area, reading circle) but are constructed by the participants' actions as part of the interactions. (Green, 1983, p. 175)

Green and Wallat specify how different `contexts' within a lesson may be identified. This may be done in the following ways:

  1. by identifying contextualisation cues. These can be prosodic features such as change of voice level, changes in intonation and stress, shifts in body position, direction of eye gaze.

  2. post hoc analysis using Green and Wallat's descriptive coding procedures can reveal shifts in focus.

  3. observation of the onset of a new physical orientation, theme, or instructional content. (Green and Wallat, 1981, p. 176) [-18-]

Once a change in `context' has been identified, the nature of the `context' can then be determined. Green and Wallat's procedure is as follows:

  1. Examine the teacher's statements for a declaration of the nature of the `context'.

  2. Consider the teacher's actions and movements.

  3. Consider the learners' actions.

  4. Define the `context' e.g., group singing.

  5. Check the validity of this definition with the teacher.

  6. Triangulation through observing the same `context' occuring in another setting.

We noted above (section 5) that there is evidence that different varieties of communication occur in L2 classrooms. In addition, ped agogical purposes may vary at different stages in the lesson. `Stages of a lesson' is not a refined sociolinguistic term, and should be replaced with `context', pace Green. Thus by introducing different pedagogical purposes, teachers create different classroom contexts, and particular types of communication are likely to occur in partic ular contexts. Therefore, it is possible, for example, for pronunci ation drills and role plays to occur in the same lesson. I am propos ing that the teacher and the students regard these two parts of the lesson as different contexts and that both parties expect particular linguistic forms and patterns of interaction to occur in the two different contexts. Thus, a primitive model for the description of the process of L2 classroom interaction might look like the follow ing: pedagogical purposes create contexts within which particular linguistic forms and patterns of interaction related to those pedagoical purposes are expected to occur.

7. Participant perspectives on L2 classroom interaction: classroom research

It is vital that any model and methodology of L2 classroom interaction is able to reflect the participants' own perspectives. I now present classroom research which lends some preliminary support to the above model.

I made a video and audio recording of an L2 lesson: French for beginners in a college of further education in England. The class of six adults was taught for two hours per week. Following Green and Wallat's (1981, p. 176) procedure (listed above) for identifying different `contexts', I identified two very different contexts within the same lesson. One was whole class repetition[-19-] of the pronunciation of French words, and the other was role-play of doctor-patient interaction in pairs. The most obvious difference was the change in physical orientation from whole-class (in the case of the repetition) to pair-work, which involved changing seating arrangements.

In the lesson following the recording, the learners were shown the two different contexts on the video and were asked to write an swers to three questions (See Appendix). The purposes of the questions were: (a) to determine whether they were able to state explicit ly the nature of the underlying pedagogical purposes of the two different contexts: (b) to determine whether they were able to see a link between the differing pedagogical purposes (in the different contexts) and their corresponding and resultant patterns of interaction. To this end a question was asked about the most striking difference with regard to the patterns of interaction, i.e., "Why does the teacher sometimes correct your pronunciation when you're repeating, but not when you're pretending to be doctors and patients?"

None of the learners was a linguist or language teacher, and the teacher did not prompt them in any way with the answers. (The questions and answers are reproduced in full in the Appendix.) Briefly, the answers demonstrate that the learners are able to characterise explicitly the differing underlying pedagogical purposes of the two different contexts, and are able to state how the differing patterns of interaction relate to the differing pedagogical purposes. This is clear from the fact that they can explain why the teacher corrects pronunciation in one context, but not in the other. In fact, the learners thought the questions were really a bit too simple and obvious. The class teacher also answered the same three questions. Her answers are also reproduced in the Appendix. The teacher's perspectives mirrored the learners' perspectives.

The participants' perspectives as demonstrated in this classroom research are therefore compatible with the basic model proposed here: pedagogical purposes create contexts within which particular linguistic forms and patterns of interaction related to those pedagogical purposes are expected to occur. This is not to suggest that the analysis of the participant perspectives of a single lesson has validated a sophisticated model: I would merely propose that any methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 classroom interaction must incorporate an ability to depict how pedagogical purposes create contexts within which related linguistic forms and patterns of interaction are expected to occur. The analysis so far has demonstrated that this is what happens in interactional terms. Classroom research has given provisional support to the view that participants also adhere to this understanding. [-20-]

8. The concept of communication rules should be integrated into the methodology.

A rule-based approach to communication is vital to contemporary sociolinguistics: "The notions of rule and rule-governed behaviour have been crucial to the recent development of the social sciences" (Taylor & Cameron, 1987, p. 7). A list of scholars (from various disciplines) whose work is prominent in sociolinguistics have investigated communication rules includes John Gumperz, Dell Hymes, Noam Chomsky, William Labov, Paul Grice, John Searle, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ervin Goffman, Harold Garfinkel, Harvey Sacks, Gail Jefferson and Emanuel Schegloff.

According to Green (1983, p. 202), the concept of classroom interaction as rule-governed behaviour is at the very centre of teaching as a linguistic process research:

At the center of the mental grid is the conceptualization of the classroom as a communicative environment in which communication between teacher and students and among students is rule governed. Rules, in this instance, are not posted and static rules like discipline standards often found on classroom bulletin boards. Rules, from a linguistic perspective, are culturally determined expectations for how to speak, when, to whom, and for what purpose (Hymes, 1974).

It would clearly be desirable, then, for a methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of classroom interaction to incorporate the concept of communication rules. Communication rules can reinforce the basic model proposed in section 6, i.e.: pedagogical purposes create contexts within which particular linguistic forms and patterns of interaction related to those pedagogical purposes are expected to occur. When the teacher introduces pedagogical purposes, he/she also introduces communication rules for the learners to follow in the particular context created. If we reexamine extract 4 (section 2), for example, we will see that the pedagogical purposes which Warren introduces also function as communication rules: "...the only instruction was that the students should look at the photographs and that anything they might say had to be in English" (Warren, 1985, p. 47).

By matching the learners' patterns of interaction to the pedagogical purposes which the teacher introduced, we are also checking how closely the learners have followed the communication rules which the teacher introduced.

The above communication rules are very `loose': the following is an example of very tight communication rules being imposed: [-21-]

Extract 6

and you?

L: Er. I'm fine too.

T: Okay, can you just repeat that sentence? I'm fine thanks and

you?

L: Erm (unintelligible).

T: Just repeat that sentence. I'm fine thanks and you?

L: I'm fine thanks and you? (Van Lier, 1988, p. 200)

The communication rules appear to be very simple and explicit: the learner must repeat the exact linguistic forms modelled by the teacher. In this case we do not have an explicit statement of the participants' perspectives: in order for this to be a valid assertion we would therefore have to prove that the participants' perspectives match ours as researchers. Again, in this case the communication rules appear to match the teacher's pedagogical purposes. Pedagogical purposes which are introduced to the L2 classroom can, to some extent, also be equivalent to communication rules.

The advantage of the fact that pedagogical purposes can, to some extent, also be equated to communication rules is that there is an established methodology for the identification and statement of communication rules, namely Shimanoff's (1980) communication rules methodology. Shimanoff's methodology provides procedures for identifying rules from behaviour, stating and verifying rules and placing rules within a wider theoretical context together with related axioms, propositions, and theorems.

It also follows, then, that if Shimanoff's communication rules methodology can identify and state communication rules from the observation of linguistic behaviour, it may also be able in some cases to identify and state pedagogical purposes from the observation of linguistic behaviour in the L2 classroom. If this were possible, it would achieve three things: first, validation of the model proposed in this article, i.e., pedagogical purposes are linked to resultant linguistic patterns of interaction.

Second, in section 7, I showed that it was possible to ask the participants to make explicit what they conceived the pedagogical purposes to be. If, however, a valid and reliable methodology can be developed for textual analysis which does not involve asking the participants for their perspectives, transcripts from all over the world could be analysed and their pedagogical purposes could be derived post hoc.[-22-]

Third, the two methodologies could be employed in a complementary way within a multiple perspective approach (see section 9.1).

To take a concrete example: in the French lesson in section 7, there was a pronunciation drill, in which the teacher read aloud a word in the L2 and the students repeated that word. We might follow Shimanoff's formal procedures and state that the teacher and students are following a communication rule in formal terms as follows: "If the teacher (either explicitly or implicitly) introduces the context of a `pronunciation drill', and if the teacher pronounces a single word in the L2 and if the teacher subsequently nominates a student or students, then the nominated student(s) must repeat the single word in the L2 which was previously pronounced by the teacher." Shimanoff has detailed procedures which can ensure verification that this is in fact rule-generated behaviour and that this is the precise rule which they are following. I asked the teacher who taught this French lesson whether this was the communication rule in operation at the time, and she confirmed this. Preliminary indications are, then, that Shimanoff's communication rules methodology may be used to identify and state communication rules from the observation of linguistic behaviour, and may also be able in some cases to identify and state pedagogical purposes from the observation of linguistic behaviour in the L2 classroom.

To sum up this section: 1) a rule-based approach to communication is vital to contemporary sociolinguistics and should be incorporated in any methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of interaction in the L2 classroom; 2) Pedagogical purposes which are introduced to the L2 classroom can, to some extent, also be communication rules; and 3) Shimanoff's communication rules methodology can identify and state communication rules from the observation of linguistic behaviour. It may also be able in some cases to identify and state pedagogical purposes from the observation of linguistic behaviour in the L2 classroom.

9. A methodology must aim to attain validity and reliablity

Any contemporary methodology for the analysis of classroom discourse must aim to achieve validity and reliability: Chaudron (1988, p. 23) writes that:

...the methodological goal of the research is validity, or the extent to which the observational apparatus and inferences drawn from it will be meaningful, significant, and applicable to further studies. Moreover, an essential element in the attainment of validity is reliability, one aspect of which includes the consistency with which others agree on the categories and descriptions and the frequencies attributed to them. (Chaudron, 1988, p. 23) [-23-]
This section examines how a methodology might achieve validity and reliability.

9.1 Multiple Perspective Approach

Whichever methodology is developed for the analysis of L2 classroom interaction, it must be able to be assimilated into a multiple-perspective approach which incorporates triangulation and participant perspectives if it is to achieve a satisfactory degree of validity and reliability. Multiple perspective approaches have become increasingly popular and fruitful in the field of classroom research in recent years. Green and Harker (1988, pp. 1-4) characterise the multiple perspective approach: " Multiple perspective research involves bringing a number of different theoretical and analytic traditions to bear on a problem." They also detail the advantages of a multiple perspective approach to classroom research:

Multiple perspective research can be accomplished in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. Underlying all of these ways of developing a multiple perspective approach is the premise that educational phenomena are complex and that no single approach captures or permits exploration of the whole. While this approach does not claim to capture the "whole", it does provide a more in-depth picture and a broader picture than can any single perspective. (Green & Harker, 1988, pp. 1-4)

In other words, the unique methodology which is required for the analysis of L2 interaction could be verified and supported by other established and complementary methodologies within a multiple perspective approach. Moreover, within a multiple perspective approach, the use of multiple methodologies should "provide a more in-depth picture and a broader picture than can any single perspective" (Green & Harker, 1988, pp. 1-4). Two complementary established methodologies would be the ethnomethodological school of Conversation Analysis (CA henceforth) and Shimanoff's (1980) communication rules methodology. These two methodologies would be complementary for the following reasons:

  1. Both methodologies are based on a rules perspective on communication.

  2. Both are capable of basing their analyses on naturalistic data and transcriptions.

  3. Both are capable of analysing institutional discourse. CA has been used to examine L2 classroom discourse (Van Lier, 1988), and Shimanoff indicates that a communication rules approach may be used to examine L2 pedagogy (1980, p. 263). [-24-]

  4. Both aim to reveal participant perspectives of the discourse analysed.

  5. Both are capable of showing how contexts and the focus of an activity shift within an overall setting such as an L2 lesson.

  6. Both are capable of showing how the patterns of interaction relate to the participants' concerns--in this case these are the pedagogical purposes. (For an example of how these methodologies could work together in complementary mode, see section 8, which shows the communication rules are sometimes indistinguishable from pedagogical purposes.)

Of particular interest to the approach taken here are:

a) CA's ability to relate interaction to institutional tasks: "...the participants' orientation to the institutional task- or role-based character of their talk will be located in a complex of non-recursive interactional practices that may vary in their form and frequency" (Drew & Heritage, 1992, p. 28).

b) CA's dynamic approach to context (see section 6): "... the CA perspective embodies a dynamic approach in which `context' is treated as both the project and product of the participants' own actions and therefore as inherently locally produced and transformable at any moment" (Drew & Heritage, 1992, p. 19).

9.2 Triangulation

We noted in section 5 the problem of "Researcher's Versus Actor's Interpretation." In addition, we noted that none of the originators of the descriptive systems had indicated whether the teachers and students involved in the transcripts have validated the description of what happened in the lesson.

A methodological tool which permits the observer's perspectives to converge with the participants' perspectives is known as `triangulation' or `negotiation':

In an effort to overcome the bias in the observer's perspective, Adelman and Walker have developed a strategy called `triangulation' borrowed from ethnomethodology. As employed by Adelman and Walker, successive interpretations of classroom interaction are elicited from teachers and students by playing them recordings of the original talk and the other participants' subsequent commentaries. Information gathered in this way is then used to validate or, where necessary, correct disparities between an observer's `commonsense interpretation of action' and that of teacher or students. (Stubbs, 1983b, p. 235) [-25-]
This technique of triangulation should be built into the prospective L2 classroom methodology since it provides the participant perspectives directly. The technique also fits neatly into a multiple perspective approach since it involves, in effect, multiple observers of the same phenomena. It may be noted here that the classroom research presented in section 7 was, in effect, an example of triangulation.

9.3 Database

If a methodology is to have validity it must clearly be able to describe and analyse a large number and variety of L2 classroom transcripts. Ideally it should have been developed through the analysis of a large amount of data. The vexing question is of course: how large is large?

In general, classroom research has not addressed this issue of how one could justify one's sampling base and there is an urgent need for guidelines to enable the robustness of reported studies to be assessed. (Banbrook & Skehan, 1989, p. 147)
Van Lier (1988, p. 5) points out that "One of the problems with L2 classroom research is that there is such a tremendous variety of L2 classrooms."

The external validity of research will be related in some way to the size and nature of the database. It seems that a total of between five and ten lessons has often been considered a reasonable database for much recent classroom research . The following are examples of prominent research into classrooms: one of the best-known studies of L1 classroom interaction, Mehan's Learning Lessons has as its goal the location of "...the organizing machinery of classroom lessons in the interaction" (1979, p. 23). Mehan's study is based on a corpus of nine lessons involving the same teacher. Van Lier's dissertation and his text The Classroom and the Language Learner are based on "a small core of lessons" (1988, p. 4). Long and Sato (1983) as well as Pica and Doughty (1988) base their research on six ESL classrooms. Nunan (1987) bases his article on five EFL lessons and Guthrie (1987) bases her research on six French classrooms. As far as I am able to tell, no large database of transcripts of L2 lessons with a variety of countries, cultures, levels, ages and L1s of learners has ever been assembled.

Any methodology would have to demonstrate its validity by demonstrating that it can adequately describe and analyse the L2 classroom interaction contained in a database of L2 lessons. Because of the diversity of L2 classrooms, it would be necessary not only to specify the size of the database in terms of number of lessons or fragments of lessons, but also the following factors, in order that the diversity of the database might be assessed: [-26-]

One would also have to specify the medium of the database, which could be video cassette, audio cassette or transcript. Transcripts are the obvious medium since: a) they can easily be integrated into publications, and transcripts are currently to be found as part of many articles; b) there are already many published and unpublished examples of L2 lesson transcripts which could form part of a database; c) transcripts are easy to read, compare, copy and distribute; and d) there is an established methodology (Conversation Analysis) which uses transcripts as a major source of evidence which can be referred to for guidance.

However, the following problems need to be addressed: a) there are a number of competing systems of transcription, and there is not yet one universally used system for L2 classrooms;

b) according to Van Lier (1988, pp. 241-2) "A transcription is never finished " and "A transcription of a lesson can never be entirely accurate." Ideally, then, the database would include video and audio recordings as well as transcripts of the lessons, in order that the accuracy of the transcripts might be verified, and in order that non-verbal data might be referred to.

In this section I have argued that any methodology must attempt to attain validity and reliability. This cause could be furthered by using a multiple perspective approach, triangulation and by making the size and nature of the database explicit.

Conclusions

I have presented five reasons why the development of a methodology for the description, analysis and evaluation of L2 interaction would be desirable. I have also proposed that such a methodology should incorporate certain features and qualities, which can be briefly summarised as follows:

The methodology must be able to depict how pedagogical purposes create contexts within which particular linguistic forms and patterns of interaction related to those pedagogical purposes are expected to occur. The methodology must be able to show how pedagogical purposes and contexts vary between lessons and during the course of lessons, [-27-] and how different varieties of communication occur in L2 classrooms. It is necessary to have an explicit statement of the teacher's pedagogical purposes in any particular context in order for valid evaluation to be effected. The methodology would need to incorporate the participant's perspectives and achieve intersubjectivity. It would need to make its methodology explicit and adopt a rule-based approach to communication. Any methodology must attempt to attain validity and reliability. This cause could be furthered by using a multiple perspective approach, triangulation, and by making the size and nature of the database explicit.

I hope to have demonstrated in this article that the development of such a methodology is a feasible proposition, that it could be a useful practical tool in L2 teaching and applied linguistics, and that it would be able to locate L2 classroom interaction within a contemporary sociolinguistic conceptual framework. However, the development of such a methodology would seem to be a long-term undertaking which would involve a team of researchers working with a large database of L2 lessons.

Appendix

This is the text of the questions which the learners answered:

Thanks for letting me do the recording last week. I'd just like to ask you 3 questions. The questions might seem a bit too simple, so imagine that you're being asked the questions by a child who's never seen a language lesson before and who doesn't understand what's going on.

(First extract is played)

a) Why are you repeating what the teacher says?

(Second extract is played)

b) Why are you pretending to be doctors and patients?

c) Why does the teacher sometimes correct your pronunciation when you're repeating, but not when you're pretending to be doctors and patients?

The following are the answers (spelling mistakes have been retained):

[-28-]

Learner 1

a) To get the pronunciation correct, because the teacher tells you to.

b) Because it is fun and they are words which you would normally not use. It is good to practice what you have learnt.

c) Because one is vocabulary the other is rollplay (sic) and sometimes pronuciation (sic) is not neccessary (sic) as long as you can get accross (sic) what you are trying to convey.

Learner 2

a) So we can get the pronounciation (sic) right. So we can remember better. So we can enjoy the sound of the language.

b) So we can make up dialogue to use. So we can practise real situations and think and respond.

c) With role play, teacher doesn't want to stop your thought processes and inhibit your practice. Better to try and then receive feedback afterwards on how well you did. An interruption would stop the thought processes. The emphasis here is on dialogue. With repetition, accent here (sorry) is on the pronunciation.

Learner 3

a) To practise pronounciation (sic) and teacher told us to and I wanted to.

b) Practise the vocabulary and pronounciation (sic). Get use (sic) to hearing French language. To have a laugh.

c) Concentrating on pronounciation (sic) when repeating, more on vocabulary and sentence structure when role playing. Constant interruption in role playing breaks the flow of conversation.

Learner 4

a) So we can pronounce better.

b) To learn to ask questions and give answers.[-29-]

c) Because you lose the thread of the conversation. Improving your pronounciation (sic) is not so relevant in this task. The most important thing is to be able to communicate.

Learner 5

a) To get the pronounciation (sic) correct plus it helps me to remember.

b) It is easier to learn through role play.

c) In role play it simulates a real setting you need to get the `feel' of the situation. When carrying out pronounciation (sic) in class it's extremely important to learn how to `sound' the words!

Learner 6

a) To practise the pronunciation of the French.

b) To practice the grammar and vocabulary of the subject.

c) The teacher is not with the group all of the time - there is some correction when mistakes are made and she is within earshot.

Learner 7

a) To get the pronunciation right. Asked to do so.

b) To practice vocabulary and carrying out a conversation. Important to know as you never can know what might happen to you when in France

c) Pronunciation needs to be corrected but not at time when it might interrupt the flow of conversation and it might stop people from experimenting with the language if they are constantly being corrected, not given the freedom to learn by trial and error.

The following are the class teacher's answers to the same questions:

a) Because by repeating what I say, they mimic me and this mimicry will help them to pronounce the words better.[-30-]

b) So that they can practice the lexis and functions they would need to communicate in that particular situation and they may need to communicate in that situation when they are in France.

c) Because when they are doing the pronunciation drill I am giving them controlled practice focusing on accuracy, but when they are doing the role play the focus is on the task which they have to accomplish and on the meanings that they wish to communicate. So if I was to correct their pronunciation, I would be shifting the focus back to accuracy, thereby disrupting the communication process. [-31-]

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Biographical Data

Paul Seedhouse has taught EFL in Austria, Thailand, Brunei and Spain, and is currently Director of Studies at the University of York, Norwegian Study Centre, York, England. He is currently trying to build up a database of L2 lesson transcripts and would be very interested in hearing from anyone around the world who has transcripts.

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