A study of the influence of teachers' language on students' learning

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Purpose This study was undertaken in order to explore the means by which the language of teachers may influence the learning of their pupils. The analysis of the language was based principally on the theory of James Britton. The Study. To attain this purpose, the study concentrated upon the language of two student teachers , each of whom was observed in an evolving relationship with a class of ten. A sequence of eight lessons with each class was taped and observed. To further the researcher's understanding of pupils' responses to the teacher, pupils from the classes involved in the study were interviewed, and the interviews taped, at the conclusion of each lesson. The data were subjected to two kinds of analysis. The quantitative analysis examined the language according to categories based on the analysis systems of Flanders, Gallagher and Aschner, and Britton. The qualitative analysis explored the specific elements of verbal interaction, relating to the theory on which the study was based. Summary and Conclusions The teacher's language appeared to create a definite learning environment in the classroom. In the lessons observed, the teachers' habitual closed questions, heavy emphasis on their view of the subject, insistance on transactional language, and structuring devices, often resulted in rote response, pseudo-participation and an impersonal study of subject matter, on the part of the pupils. Learning appeared to be more effective, however, on the occasions when the teacher's language engaged with the inner monologue of the pupils and stimulated them to perceive the relationship between the known and the unknown. Learning was also facilitated by the teacher's using her language to encourage the children to speculate on the subject matter, relate it to personal experience, and discuss it in expressive language. Implications The relationship between the teacher's language and the students' learning is a complex one that goes far beyond the matter of clear communication. An awareness of the influence of language on learning would seem to be basic to any teacher's education. How children are taught to respond to their teachers' language patterns, how the teacher's talk creates classroom roles for individuals, how praise and censure determine learning, and how much pseudoparticipation is a part of lessons, are some of the questions that this study suggests for further research.
Bibliography: p. 118-120.
Newton, C. J. (1974). A study of the influence of teachers' language on students' learning (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/12664