Exploring how a second language teacher strategically manages a chaotic classroom: A multi-semiotic perspective to an L2 academic speaking class

Akbaş E. , Tor D. , Altan A. E. , Yavuz E.

2nd ILTERG Conference , 16 - 17 Ekim 2020


The communication in language classrooms appears to be different when compared to other classes (i.e. Geography, History) since the language teacher is expected to create communicative opportunties for the learners to use and be exposed to the real language via activities. In line with this, the teacher ‘monopolises control of the discourse’ (Thornbury, 2000 as cited in Walsh, 2006) for a better communication and interaction within the classroom discourse. This essentially contributes to success of the learners in attaining communicative competence. Nevertheless, with a special focus on the classroom management, how the teacher realizes the dynamics of the classroom discourse seems to influence the quality of communicative practices. Adopting the ‘Chaotic universe model’ by Aydiner (2018) into the classroom discourse which can also be claimed to have ‘nonlinear interactions between components’, the major aim of the present research is to explore how the teacher can strategically manipulate the L2 classroom discourse in order to create better opportunities for learning and L2 practice. To this end, we analyze data from a Turkish as a Foreign/Second Language Classroom with the help of Conversation Analysis (CA) from a multimodal perspective and suggest that the teacher manages a pedagocially chaotic classroom. As an example, the manipulation and management by the teacher via non-verbal utterances (i.e., hm: or Mm hm) seems to function as ‘encouraging’ tokens matching with the embodied resources (i.e., crossing his arms and nodding his head) enabling the learner to continue even if the answers do not match with the ones in teacher’s agenda. This has simply maximized the learner participation since the learners kept interacting with the topic and the question up to a point where the teacher feels to question them to find out whether the students attempted to convey a particular meaning. Not only does the strategy help learners find a better opportunity to expand on the topic with a long student turn (relatively longer student turns) but also serves as the proof of the ‘boundary’ (Walsh, 2006, p.110) for a successful management of the classroom discourse. The findings also suggest that the teacher is not generally concerned with the turn-taking practices of the students, which can result in a chaotic context to deal with, for the sake of supporting and promoting student participation, hence, learning. The discussion of various findings from particular extracts will shed light on whether/to what extent the shape of the interaction in teaching Turkish as a Second Language (TSL) context is different when compared to teaching Turkish as a Foreign Language (TFL) by taking the distinction between EFL and ESL into account.
Key words: Conversation analysis, interaction analysis, chaotic classroom management, teacher competency
Aydiner,E. (2018). Chaotic universe model. Scientific Reports 8, 721. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18681-4
Walsh, S. (2006). Investigating Classroom Discourse. Routledge: London