A Comparative Analysis of Interaction in the Foreign Language Classroom
2010-09-10T11:54:59Z (GMT) by
Language teaching still maintains its strong position in the way it contributes to empowering individuals on a personal, economic, cultural and global level. Since the 1980s the Communicative Approach has shaped the way languages are taught. It has emphasised identifying learners' needs and catering for these needs, meaningful learning and individual differences. Studies on language acquisition and classroom language learning are helping in the constant search for ways in which successful learning can be fostered in foreign language classrooms. This study investigated foreign language classrooms in two mainstream secondary school settings -English and Turkish, to understand the ongoing practice in schools and explore the ways in which students get the opportunities for spoken practice of the target language. The data, collected through structured observations, audio recording of lessons, field notes and teacher interviews, suggested that teachers dominate classroom talk, the opportunities for pair and group work are limited compared to the proportion of teacher-fronted lessons. In the English context, it was found that students' language is highly restricted in terms of the content and linguistic form they are expected to produce. In the Turkish context, students were found to engage in more extended talk and display creative use of the language. This study identified certain features of teacher talk as contributing factors to the quality and quantity of students' language production. It is suggested that for the English context, the limitations of students' language production may be a result of the way the modern languages curriculum and schemes of work are designed, and that if the government is sincere about achieving its agenda to ensure economic success in international trade, access to global citizenship and for mutual understanding among cultures, the language curriculum and schemes of work may need to be revised, and learners and parents need to be informed about the empowering aspects of language learning. For the Turkish context, newly qualified teachers were found to face difficulties in facilitating student participation and creative use of the target language. Therefore, it was suggested that more research is necessary to identify the challenges they face, the type of departmental or external training support they may be needing, how much support is already provided or other teachers may be willing to provide. The implications of such a study point towards ensuring a certain quality of teaching in a consistent manner in schools.