Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 12, No 1

Encouraging participation or restraining teasing? Teacher responses to uninvited students’ answers

Inkeri Lehtimaja, Liisa Tainio
Issued Date: 20 May 2019


In a second-language classroom, it is beneficial for learning to encourage student participation. However, the teacher has to consider issues of equal participation and moral order. Drawing on a corpus of Finnish as a second language lessons for teenage students and adopting a conversation analytic approach, this article examines situations in which the students produce uninvited, teasing answers on behalf of other students. We focus especially on teacher responses: the teachers either ignore, ratify or sanction the uninvited answers. In our analysis, we show how the participants negotiate the right to answer, and how the teachers take into account the turn-taking rules of classroom interaction and the ongoing pedagogical activity, as well as moral considerations. In the article, ignoring the uninvited answer is treated as a default teacher response, since it corresponds to norms of prototypical classroom interaction. However, the teacher can ratify an uninvited answer if it is useful for pedagogical purposes, or s/he can sanction an uninvited answer if it is unacceptable for classroom talk or if the target of the teasing turn displays embarrassment. While participating in pedagogical activities, the students pursue their own social goals at the same time. This social dimension can promote learning but needs to be handled with care by the teacher.

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DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.36883


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