Eric Nicaise

Enhancing Oral Communication in the EFL Classroom: Teacher Talk as a Powerful Means of Language Acquisition

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: teacher talk, corpus linguistics, EFL classroom.

Back in the 1980s the advent of the communicative approach in foreign language teaching and the accompanying switch of focus from the teacher to the learner raised the issue of the amount of teacher talk that should be used, arguing that it should be kept to a minimum. One key component of training courses based on Communicative Language Teaching (CLT was that teacher talking time (TTT) should be reduced to a minimum. Not surprisingly then, until recently, the attention given to teacher talk has been a much-neglected area in the literature and in teacher education. Nevertheless, teacher talk remains a key aspect of lessons where English is taught as a foreign language (EFL). Setting aside the range of listening materials available, the EFL teacher is in many instances the main model of English which students are exposed to throughout their time at secondary school. This paper postulates that effective teacher talk enhances the potential for real communication and therefore leads to better language acquisition. Indeed, in line with socio-cultural theory, the classroom is recognised as a genuine social environment which offers significant communicative potential close to outside-the-classroom interaction. It is therefore critical that the EFL teacher should be trained in and acquire the specialised linguistic competence needed to verbalise key classroom functions. Through the exploration of a 160,000-word corpus of native and non-native teacher talk, this paper looks at various linguistic features and procedures intended to enhance oral communication in the EFL classroom, with the aim of transferring such language to social situations outside the classroom. More generally, this paper makes it clear that, when delivered effectively, teacher talk largely contributes to better language acquisition.

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