They Are Talking, But Is It Productive? Exploring EFL Students' Small Group Talk

Publication Name

TESOL Quarterly


Curricular innovations in English language programs have placed increasing emphasis on providing opportunities for students to speak in the classroom, often through communicative group activities. However, despite decades of advocacy for small group talk, a rigorous conception of the quality of talk in these groups is lacking, particularly in the ways students productively use talk to meet curriculum objectives. This paper presents an analytic framework for characterizing the productive use of small group talk, exploring data collected from English language learning students in a South Korean university. Findings demonstrate the students' talk developed in the robustness of the talk repertoires, the collaborative nature, and the connections of their talk to course outcomes. This paper closes with a discussion exploring English language students' talk, challenging current understandings of students' talk abilities by pushing beyond simple communication in a foreign language and towards productive small group talk.

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