Skip to main content Skip to main content

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Person to Person Before you Watch

To begin this workshop session, you will tap your prior knowledge and experience and then read current research on interpersonal communication.

Reflect on Your Experience

Consider the types of conversations that you have led or observed among students in your classroom, then answer the following questions. You may want to save your answers in order to reflect on them again at the end of the session.

  1. What kinds of classroom conversations do you have with your students? What is your role in each kind of conversation? What is the students’ role?
  1. How do you determine what kinds of questions you will ask? For example, in what situation might you ask a question that prompts a short response, showing a student’s understanding of the material? In what situation might you ask a question that leads to a more extended conversation?
  1. As a general practice, how do you respond after a student has answered a question? For example, do you tend to tell the student whether his or her answer is correct or not, or do you ask a follow-up question? If you use different kinds of responses, how do you determine when to use each one?
  1. What guidelines do you set for students when they converse in small groups?

Examine the Research


“Classroom Discourse”
Part 1 (PDF, 524 K) | Part 2 (PDF, 579 K) | Part 3 (PDF, 506 K)
This article addresses the important role of teacher-student and student-student interactions in the creation of a community of learners and in shaping students’ development in the target language.

Hall, Joan Kelly. “Classroom Discourse.” In Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages: Creating a Community of Learners in the Classroom, 77-100. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice-Hall, 2001.

Reading Questions

  1. Write a description of the Initiation/Response/Evaluation (IRE) pattern in your own words. To what degree do you think the IRE pattern is evident in your classroom conversations? In what kinds of situations do you tend to use this communication pattern with students?
  1. Describe the Initiation/Response/Follow-Up (IRF) pattern in your own words. To what degree do you think the IRF pattern is evident in your classroom conversations? When do you typically elect to use this pattern?
  1. Using examples from the article, describe the effect that moving toward IRF or instructional conversations (ICs) seems to have on student learning.
  1. What kinds of strategies might help a teacher move his or her pattern of communication toward IRF? What are some classroom activities that could help students move toward having more spontaneous conversations? What question types tend to limit conversation? What types result in more extended talk?
  1. What adaptations might you make to the patterns of communication in your classroom? What are some of the challenges of integrating IRF patterns into classroom conversations?


Optional Articles
You may elect to read the following two articles for a deeper understanding of the research cited in “Classroom Discourse” and to learn about additional classroom examples that support the research.

“‘Aw, man, where you goin’?'”
Part 1 (PDF, 757 K) | Part 2 (PDF, 764 K)
This article looks at foreign language education from a sociocultural perspective.

Hall, Joan Kelly. “‘Aw, man, where you goin’?’: Classroom Interaction and the Development of L2 Interactional Competence.” Issues in Applied Linguistics 6, no. 2 (1995): 37-61.

“Teacher-Student Interaction and Language Learning”
Part 1 (PDF, 397 K) | Part 2 (PDF, 406 K) | Part 3 (PDF, 365 K)
This article reviews literature on recent developments in teacher-student interaction and language learning.

Hall, Joan Kelly, and Megan Walsh. “Teacher-Student Interaction and Language Learning.” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 22 (2002): 186-203