Phalangchok Wanphet


This exploratory study, following a conversation analytic (CA) perspective, investigates topic shift in classroom talk during the class opening. The data, which are natural observational, come from three hours of audio-recordings of verbal interaction between four EFL teachers and their students during the class opening at an Asian university. The fi ndings are threefold. First, the EFL teachers’ topic-changing turns are much longer than turns that do not serve the same purpose. Second, the EFL teachers’ topic-changing turns consist of two parts: a) the fi rst part deals with the students’ preceding topic and turns; and b) the second part is intentionally designed to prompt the next topic. Third, discourse markers are placed between the two parts. A close analysis of the EFL teachers’ topic-changing turns suggests that they may make topic shift appear more natural and spontaneous. However, their turns have features that diff erentiate them from those located in mundane talk.


teacher talk; topic shift; classroom communication; class opening; discourse markers

Full Text:


Show references Hide references

Atkinson, J. M. and Drew, P. (1979) Order in Court: The Organization of Verbal
Interaction in Judicial Settings. London: Macmillan.

Brown, G. and Yule, G. (1983) Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Brumfi t, C. and Johnson, K. (1979) The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Canale, M. (1983) ‘From communicative competence to communicative language
pedagogy.’ In: Richard J. C. and Schmidt, C. (eds) Language and Communication.
New York, NY: Longman. 2-27.

Cazden, C. (2001) Classroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Drew, P. and Heritage, J. (1992) ‘Analyzing talk at work: An introduction.’ In: Drew, P.
and Heritage, J. (eds) Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. 3-65.

Gardner, R. (1997) ‘The listener and minimal responses in conversational interaction.’
Prospect 12 (2), 12-32.

Heritage, J. (1984) Garfi nkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Heritage, J. (2010) ‘Questioning in medicine.’ In: Freed, A. and Ehrlich, S. (eds) Why Do
You Ask?: The Function of Questions in Institutional Discourse. New York: Oxford
University Press. 42-68.

Heritage, J. (2011) ‘The interaction order and clinical practice: Some observations on
dysfunctions and action steps.’ Patient Education and Counseling 84 (3), 338-343.

Heritage, J. and Robinson, J. (2011) ‘‘Some’ vs ‘any’ medical issues: Encouraging patients
to reveal their unmet concerns.’ In: Antaki, C. (ed.) Applied Conversation Analysis:
Changing Institutional Practices. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 15-31.

Holmes, J. (2000) ‘Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the
workplace.’ Discourse Studies 2 (2), 159-185.

Holmes, J. and Stubbe, M. (2003) Power and Politeness in the Workplace. A Sociolinguistic
Analysis of Talk at Work. Edinburgh Gate and London: Pearson.

Hua Z., Seedhouse P., Wei L. and Cook V. (2007) Language Learning and Teaching as
Social Interaction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hymes, D. H. (1972). ‘On communicative competence.’ In Pride, J. B. and Holmes, J.
(eds) Sociolinguistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 269-293.

Jeff erson, G. (1984) ‘Notes on a systematic deployment of the acknowledgement tokens
‘Yeah’ and ‘Mmhm’.’ Paper in Linguistics 17 (2),197-216.

Lerner, G. (1994) ‘Responsive list construction: A conversational resource for
accomplishing multifaceted social action.’ Journal of Language and Social
Psychology 13 (1), 20-33.

Lerner, G. (1995) ‘Turn design and the organization of participation in instructional
activities.’ Discourse Processes 19 (1), 111-131.

Markee, N. (2000) Conversation Analysis. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Maynard, D. (1980) ‘Placement of topic changes in conversation.’ Semiotica 30 (3-4),

Mayr, A. (2008) Language and Power: An Introduction to Institutional Discourse.
London: Continuum.

Mehan, H. (1979) ‘“What time is it, Denise?”: Asking known information questions in
classroom discourse.’ Theory into Practice 18 (4), 285-294.

Mumby, D. (1988) Communication and Power in Organizations: Discourse, Ideology and
Domination. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Nunan, D. (1989) Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. New York, NY:
Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. and Lockhart, C. (1994) Refl ective Teaching in Second Language
Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C. and Rodgers, T. (2014) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching.
2nd ed. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Sacks, H. (1973) ‘On the preferences for agreement and contiguity in sequences in
conversation.’ In: Button, G. and Lee, J. (eds) Talk and Social Organisation. Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters. 54-69.

Sacks, H., Schegloff , E. A. and Jefferson, G. (1974) ‘A simplest systematics for the
organisation of turn-taking for conversation.’ Language 50 (4), 696-735.

Savignon, S. (1983) Communicative Competence: Theory and Classroom Practice.
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Schegloff, E. A. (1968) ‘Sequencing in conversational openings.’ American Anthropologist
70 (6), 1075-1095.

Schegloff, E. A. (1982) ‘Discourse as interactional achievement, some uses of ‘uh huh’ and
other things that come between sentences.’ In: Tannen, D. (ed.) Analysing Discourse:
Text and Talk. Washington: Georgetown University Press. 71-93.

Schegloff, E. A. (1992) ‘Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of
intersubjectivity in conversation.’ American Journal of Sociology 97 (5), 1295-1345.

Schegloff , E. A. and Sacks, H. (1973) ‘Opening up closings.’ Semiotica 8 (4), 289-327.

Seedhouse, P. (2004) The Interactional Architecture of the Language Classroom: A
Conversation Analysis Perspective. MA: Blackwell.

Sinclair, J. and Coulthard, M. (1975) Towards an Analysis of Discourse: The English Used
by Teachers and Pupils. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thornborrow, J. (2002) Power Talk: Language and Interaction in Institutional Discourse.
London: Longman.

Tracy, K. (1984) ‘Staying on topic: An explication of conversational relevance.’ Discourse
Processes 7 (4), 447-464.

Vine, B. (2004) Getting Things Done at Work: The Discourse of Power in Workplace
Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Walsh, S. (2011) Exploring Classroom Discourse: Language in Action. New York:

Watson Todd, R. (1997) Classroom Teaching Strategies. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice

West, C. (1984) ‘When the doctor is a ‘lady’: Power, status and gender in physicianpatient encounters.’ Symbolic Interaction 7 (1), 87-106.

West, C. (1990) ‘Not just ‘doctors’ orders’: Directive-response sequences in patients’
visits to women and men physicians.’ Discourse and Society 1 (1), 85-113.

West, C. (1998) ‘When the doctor is a ‘lady’: Power, status and gender in physicianpatient
encounters.’ In: Coates, J. (ed.) Language and Gender: A Reader. Oxford:
Blackwell. 396-412.

Widdowson, H. (1978) Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: Oxford University

Wong, J. and Waring, H. Z. (2010) Conversation Analysis and Second Language
Pedagogy: A Guide for ESL/EFL Teachers. New York: Routledge.

Crossref Cited-by (1)

The listed references are provided by Cited-by (Crossref service) and thus do not represent the full list of sources citing the article.

1. English Language Teaching in a Post-Method Paradigm
Asmaa Muwafaq Alkhazraji
ISBN 9781522592303  chapter 4,  first page: 66,  year: 2019

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.