Contrary to some recent blog posts I’ve read, I think second language (L2) instructors are quite keen on reading research. One of the problems, of course, is that many instructors often lack the time (and access/resources) to read papers, and so here’s a brief summary of an interesting study I’m using in my postgraduate oral communication subject/course.
Kayi-Aydar’s (2014) examined how two talkative students (Tarek and Ahmad) learned an L2 in their classroom. One member was accepted, whereas the other one was isolated. Kayi-Aydar’s asked why, and explored factors that contributed to students’ social status in the classroom. So what did Kayi-Aydar’s find? Tarek represented a leadership position. He was the oldest student and acted like a teacher. He told other students what to do and dominated classroom activities/events. Tarek blurted out comments instead of raising his hand (other students raised hands). Other students considered his behaviour “disruptive.” Ahmad, on the other hand, talked a great deal. He was more proficient in speaking than other students in class. Initially he portrayed himself as a learner who didn’t understand, but soon took on a competent student position. In pair work, although he would state that he didn’t know an answer, as soon as a partner provided an answer, he supplemented with additional information, thus demonstrating his competency. Other students seemed to lack a desire to communicate with him. Ahmad was positioned as the “arrogant” or “inconsiderate” student.
Over time, Tarek’s status changed from “outsider” to “insider.” He was accepted by the class because of the use of humour. He built friendships, and became less disruptive. His positional identity changed from merely “outspoken student” to “funny student.” In terms of teacher talk, there was flexibility with Tarek (the teacher laughed at jokes and encouraged him to speak), but with Ahmad there was less flexibility (the teacher stopped him from speaking several times to give others a chance to speak). Interestingly, the differences in how the teacher treated the two students may have directly impacted the degree to which the rest of the class “accepted” these 2 students in class.
Questions for Reflection:
Kayi-Aydar, H. (2014). Social positioning, participation, and second language learning: Talkative students in an academic ESL classroom. TESOL Quarterly,48(4), 686-714 doi: 10.1002/tesq.139
I am a Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Wollongong in Australia. I blog about L2 learning, L2 teaching, L2 teacher education, and research.