Addressing silence, dominance and off-task talk in group work in an academic writing class

Sharma, Bal Krishna
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This study aims to investigate the teacher role in mediating the task and the learner in an advanced academic writing class. Having identified three types of learner (non-) participation– silence, dominance and off-task talk – through reflective viewing and micro-analysis of video data from a class I taught, I asked how these interactional concerns are understood and addressed by other writing teachers in the same language program as I was teaching. Interview findings from eight writing teachers suggest that the teachers play a key mediating role during the various phases of implementing a task-based lesson in order to address the concerns of silence, dominance and off-task talk. For example, in the task design phase, the students can be given specific roles in their group or can be given planning time. In the task performance phase, the teacher can make judicious interventions in order to encourage contributions from the quiet students or put talkative students on hold for a while. The paper concludes with its contributions to and implications for the professional development of language teachers in task-based pedagogy.
group work, task-based pedagogy, professional development, silence, dominance, off-task talk
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