Formulation as evidence of understanding in teacher–student talk

Nakamura, Ian
April 2010
ELT Journal: English Language Teaching Journal;Apr2010, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p125
Academic Journal
As we regularly find in exchanges outside the classroom, formulating (the rephrasing of what has been said) makes use of such conversational skills as active listening, elaboration, and affiliation as well as the precise timing of taking turns to keep the talk going. This paper examines how formulations occur in talk outside the classroom including during arranged informal talks between a teacher and his students and what we can learn about facilitating more extensive talk in classroom interactions. Formulating understandings of what one speaker says offers the next speaker a valuable interactional resource to promote both confirmation of previous turns and elaboration in subsequent turns. In contrast to methodological practice where teacher and student are language expert and novice, formulations draw attention to how real-world interactions are jointly constructed for understanding.A member may use some part of the conversation as an occasion to formulate the conversation. (Garfinkel and Sacks 1970: 350)


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