Exploring the functions of okay as a discourse marker in an English-medium instruction class

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Akbaş E., Gezegin B. B.

in: English as the Medium of Instruction in Turkish Higher Education: Policy, Practice and Progress , Yasemin Kırkgöz,Ali Karakaş, Editor, Springer Nature, London, pp.233-256, 2022

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • City: London
  • Page Numbers: pp.233-256
  • Editors: Yasemin Kırkgöz,Ali Karakaş, Editor
  • Erciyes University Affiliated: Yes


The discourse marker okay has multi-functions within classroom discourse paving the way for interpersonal communication and creating dialogic space. Considering the importance of teaching through English-medium instruction (EMI) in the Turkish context, the purpose of this study is to explore the use and functions of okay by a lecturer at an EMI university in Turkey. To this end, using corpus linguistics and conversation analysis methodologies, we investigated a relatively small specialized corpus of lectures in the field of mathematics offered at undergraduate level. The analyses of okay in the corpus resulted in a range of key findings with respect to the particular uses of the device in an EMI lecture. The talk of the lecturer constituting the body of the course involved highly frequent use of okay in an engaging and meaningful manner to achieve educational and interactional goals in the class. To illustrate, the findings suggest that the lecturer employed okay to attract students’ attention to the announcement of an upcoming significant point. In addition to this unique function, we found that okay was used just before providing a translation of an unknown word/concept in the target language. With detailed excerpts focusing on the marker okay from our dataset, we also discuss the ways in which the lecturer promotes and manages his teaching and the classroom. The study contributes to the growing body of research on the use of DMs (particularly in teacher talk) and shows how a dialogic space can be created by the deployment of okay in EMI classrooms.