English As A Foreign Language (Efl) Learning Through Classroom Interaction
: An Investigation Of Participants’ Collaborative Use Of Speech Prosody In Classroom Activities In A Secondary Efl Classroom

  • Xin Zhao

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Conversational prosody or tone of voice (e.g. intonation, pauses, speech rate etc.) plays an essential role in our daily communication. Research studies in various contexts have shown that prosody can function as an interactional device for the management of our social interaction (Hellermann, 2003, Wennerstrom, 2001, Wells and Macfarlane, 1998, Couper-Kuhlen, 1996). However, not much research focus has been given to the pedagogical implications of conversational prosody in classroom teaching and learning. Informed by Community of Practice theory (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and Academic Task and Social Participation Structure (Erickson, 1982), which place participation at the core of the learning development, the current research employs an exploratory case study to examine the function of speech prosody during the co-construction of classroom talk-in-interaction in and between different classroom activities (e.g. whole class instruction, group discussion, group presentation, etc.). Audio–video data of classroom lessons were collected over a two-month period. Transcribing conventions described by Atkinson and Heritage (1984) were adopted to note the prosodic features in the recordings. Prosodic features such as pauses, volume, intonation, and speech rate were set as the main criteria for analysing the classroom talk. Analysis of the transcripts showed that speech prosody can function as a coordination tool for language learners to organise their social participation roles in collaborative learning activities (e.g. forming alignment, managing turn-taking, signalling repair sequences, etc.). The research also showed that prosody can function as a pedagogical tool for language teachers to manage classroom interactional ground (e.g. provide scaffolding, align academic task structure and social participation structure, frame classroom environment, etc.). Moreover, the research showed that prosodic analysis can be an effective tool in unfolding the pedagogical importance of classroom interaction (e.g. IRE/F sequences) in classroom teaching and learning.Key words: Prosody, Classroom talk, EFL learning
Date of Award10 Apr 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Skidmore (Supervisor) & Kyoko Murakami (Supervisor)


  • Prosody
  • Classroom talk
  • EFL learning and teaching

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