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Teacher Talk: Linguistic Characteristics and Adjustments

Dodu, Yana Igorevna
A Master of Arts thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Yana Igorevna Dodu entitled, "Teacher Talk: Linguistic Characteristics and Adjustments," May 2013. Thesis advisor is Dr. Betty Lanteigne. Available are both hard and soft copies of the thesis.
This study describes linguistic characteristics of English language (EL) teachers' spoken input to second language learners in classrooms in the UAE, and compares them to the results of researchers who have investigated patterns of conversational talk. Various linguistic adjustments, modifications and simplifications that distinguish Teacher Talk (TT) from discourse outside of the classroom, have been found in previous studies conducted in this field. The current study discusses the TT used by EL teachers in four EL classrooms to ensure comprehensible input, and at the same time expose students to natural and authentic language input. The purpose of this study is to examine linguistic characteristics and adjustments in TT in a particular context and to explore the teachers' reasons for these modifications. The answers to the research questions were pursued by using qualitative analysis with descriptive statistics. Data was collected by observing four English teachers at an institution in the UAE offering English courses. This research was designed to raise teachers' and educators' awareness, through analysis of transcriptions, of the type, frequency, and similarities or differences between linguistic characteristics of TT in these EL classrooms. Overall, the TT of the observed teachers can be described as having low frequencies of self-repetition, contracted form and disfluencies, and a low type-token ratio, yet a high frequency of questions, with a prevalence of yes/no questions over other types of questions. These teachers consider that linguistic modifications in TT ensure comprehensibility of input, expose students to authentic language, help them to avoid confusion, and encourage students' participation.The findings of this research might encourage teachers of English to rethink the use of linguistic adjustments and modifications in their classroom language.
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