Developing dialogic interactions : teacher talk in Saudi Arabian secondary schools' English language classes

Publication Type:
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
This study investigated the nature of teacher talk in Saudi EFL secondary school classrooms. The study explores how teacher talk assisted or hindered the development of the students’ dialogic skills. By analysing aspects of teacher talk (TT), in particular the role of the F-move in the IRF (initiation, response, feedback) interaction sequence, it investigated how TT was affected by certain cultural, educational and teaching practices in learning of the target language. This is a qualitative research, in which data were collected from naturalistic settings through classroom observations, audio recordings of classroom interactions and interviews with 18 EFL teachers teaching in six different secondary schools within Hafr Al-Batin province (a region in Saudi Arabia). The findings showed that the F-moves of repetition and evaluation were commonly used in Saudi EFL classrooms, whereas the F-moves of elaboration and reformulation were less dominant in teacher talk. The former are less likely to promote discussion and dialogue; they restrict learners’ engagement with meaning-making in classroom talk because both F-moves function as indirect corrective feedback which impedes students’ output and uptake and encourage low order thinking. Students were not provided with appropriate learning opportunities but were merely exposed to teachers’ subject matter knowledge, specifically, grammatical knowledge. The brief nature of the exchanges was insufficient to stimulate learning. The study also found that some teachers failed to utilise macro-teaching strategies that encourage productive teacher talk, especially in the areas of negotiated interaction facilitation, promoting learner autonomy, raising cultural awareness and maximising learning opportunities. Instead, the teacher’s role did not promote dialogic talk but merely reinforced teacher authority. Some teachers spent considerable time on managing students’ behaviour; as a result, they paid little attention to building positive relationships in the classroom. The findings also showed that there is a strong interconnection between pedagogy and culture. In other words, dialogic teaching is not independent of the sociocultural setting of the classroom, institution and community in Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, classroom talk cannot be transformed into dialogic talk without cultural modifications in EFL teaching, such as providing freedom of speech and space for dialogue and debate. It is therefore. recommended that professional development programs include material related to dialogic talk/teaching in order to increase teachers’ awareness and understanding of the role of TT in managing classroom talk and to enhance their ability to help students achieve their full potential in language learning and development.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: