A preliminary investigation into communication in the special needs classroom during Key Stage Three English lessons

Karen Bunning, Martina Ellis

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4 Citations (Scopus)


A preliminary study was conducted to investigate the communicative roles performed by teacher and pupil during Key Stage 3 (KS3) English lessons. Two classes of a special school were involved in the study. Data collection employed video capture of teacher—pupil communication during timetabled English lessons. The data were transcribed and analysed in terms of interaction structure, communicative functions and modes. Significant differences between teachers and pupils were observed with regard to interactional structure: the teachers occupied more turns and used a higher number of initiating and follow-up moves than the pupils; the pupils used more response moves than the teachers. Analysis of communicative functions revealed significant differences between teachers and pupils, with teachers using more requestives and feedbacks. The exception was the informative function, which showed no significant difference between the groups. In terms of communicative modes, teachers used significantly more speech, although no significant differences were recorded on the measures of sign and gesture. This small-scale study illustrates the use of the initiation—response—follow-up sequence in communication within the classroom. Teacher use of multi-modal communication appears to reflect those used by the pupils in the study. Implications for future research and practice are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-194
Number of pages15
JournalChild Language Teaching & Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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