UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Foreigner talk in the ESL classroom : interactional adjustments to adult students at two language proficiency levels Brulhart, Marilyn Mae


While native speakers adjust their speech to accommodate non-native speakers on syntactic and prosodic levels, they also make adjustments on the level of discourse. It has been argued that these interactional adjustments are crucial to the promotion of language learning. A quasi-experimental, factorial study compared the frequencies of nine interactional features used in the speech of four ESL teachers as they taught beginner and advanced level adult classes. It was expected that teachers would change their use of each feature accordingly as students neared native proficiency. Nine two-way analyses of variance were employed to capture three sources of variation in the use of the interactional features: proficiency level, teacher and proficiency level by teacher interaction. As predicted, display questions and self-repetitions were used significantly less often with advanced students than with beginners. High variability in teacher behaviour was discovered, and seemed to be primarily an artifact of lesson content. In fact, discourse usage seemed to vary as a function of lesson content, as well as proficiency level of the students. One result, the marked reduction in use of display questions at the advanced level, was discussed in light of prevailing ESL goals. As research addresses the question of whether and which adjustments do promote language acquisition, there will be implications for teacher training.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.