Classroom Discourse in English (for Danish teachers)

The role of the teacher: Link:

“The teacher serves as a mediator, using language to support and scaffold student learning within social relationship” (Kathleen A.J. Mohr)

“An important distinction made by Cazden (2001) is that teachers are responsible for both the affective and academic aspects of effective classrooms and classroom talk. Teachers can direct classroom discourse so that both these goals are targeted and supported. For example, teachers can accept, deny, recast, expand, or encourage elaboration of student’s responses. “Success for students in culturally diverse classrooms depends on the degree to which there are strategies that encourage all students to talk and work together”. One strategy (among many) promoted by Echevarria and Graves (2003) is the use of direct, rather than indirect, questions to promote clarity. So while instructional talk should be engaging, there is a place to use direct questions of students and then facilitate the elaboration of their responses as a means to develop academic language use and motivation them as learners.” (Kathleen A.J. Mohr)

General recomendations by Kathleen A.J. Mohr:

“Teachers at all grade levels face the challenge to increase and improve the language use of their students; thus educators should consider what they do and could do better and then apply communication structures that are appropriate for both the age and proficiency of the student. The following are some general guidelines.

– Uphold high expectations for student participation. Expect everyone to contribute. During key discussions, use a class roster to keep track of students’ participation levels and employ ways to get students talking beyond having them raise their hands (e.g., choral responses, shared reading, and paired discussions).

– Practice behaviors that value and elaborate students’ contributions. Smile and share common courtesies. Make eye contact and move closer to the speaker, if possible, unless these gestures seem to make a student uncomfortable.

– Allow sufficient wait time, including patient pauses that support students’ possible need for code switching (i.e., thinking or speaking in one language and switching to another). Repeating the question or prompt allows more time for processing while engaging more students.

– Use yes or no, either, or other prompts to bridge language gaps. Because oral language production competence follows reception skills, students can comprehend more than they can verbalize. Giving students a way to show their knowledge without having to construct complete sentences keeps students involved and scaffolds their use of English to evidence their understanding.

– Accept phrases and partial answers and model more complete sentences. Helping students elaborate their ideas into full sentences with academic structures and terms will help them to write their ideas down in more standard English.

– Model standard pronunciation and grammar. Slowing down, oversimplifying, or speaking more loudly are not necessary. Rephrasing and gesturing to help convey meaning are more helpful. Remember to amplify, not simplify (Gibbons, 2002).

– Find time to make small talk on a one-to-one basis. Ask questions frequently and listen carefully to student responses. Making time for less intimidating exchanges (e.g., small groups, individual conferences) may provide information that you can use when leading whole-group discussions later.

– Don’t relent on your expectation of participation. Practice possible follow-up responses to enlarge your response repertoire. Videotape some key class discussions to help self-assess your effectiveness with ELLs.

– Be a good listener, focusing on the content of the message rather than its grammatical structure. Acknowledging a student’s message is likely to increase interaction, while correcting grammar may not and, in fact, might shift the focus from content to form.

– Learn some key phrases in the student’s native language to make a connection and to share the language-learning process with your students.

These guidelines can help teachers to become more exploratory in their interactions with students of varying language skills, intellectual levels, and dispositions.”

My (PW) research/observation:

Glossery for the classroom:

Mapper: portfolio, folder

Tusch: marker

Tegnstift: pin, thumbtack, tack

Send rund: Please pass on ….

Today’s agenda – “dagens program”

Studietur: field trip, study tour

Lærerværelse: staffroom

Grade/mark: karakter

Lineal: ruler

Pegepind: pointer, point Stick

Eksamens/prøveudtryk: Tests: Are shorter in time and length. Exam: longer than test

General expressions:

Let us get the ball rolling : let us get the project started

Sleep on it: I am going to think about it for some time…I’ll get back to you tomorrow

Like the back of my hand : I know this city like the back of my hand – I know it very well

Please give me a hand/would you help me

I’m sick and tired of listening to your bad excuses

Push it to extremes: Sætte på spidsen

Turn down the blind

Submit: aflevere, hand in

Resubmission: genaflevering?

Fluency, ability to express themselves

Coping/mastery/mestering: mestring

Depth/width – dybde/længde

Awry/askew: skævt – aslant: på skrå


Divide: dele – divide into sections – divide/split up: dele op

Share/split: dele mellem sig

Evaluation: Hvad siger jeg til en top/bund/middel præstation?

Excellent, Great, Fine, Good, Okay?

Examples of teacher elaborations of correct responses:

– Yes, that’s good. What else do you know about that?
– You are correct. How did you learn that?
– You’re right, can you tell me more?
– Yes, that’s a very good answer. Can you also tell me why this (concept, information
is important?
– I like that good thinking, and I like the way you said that. (Perhaps repeat the answer)
– Good thinking! Good English”

Examples teacher elaborations of partially correct responses:

– Thank you. Could you tell me more about that?”
– Yes, I agree that___. Now, let’s think more about____.
– You’re telling me some good things, especially the part about____. What else?
– We’re heading in the right direction, but that’s not quite complete. Do you or anyone else have something to add?

Examples of teacher elaborations of incorrect or confusing responses:

– Help me understand what you mean. Tell me again.
– Tell me more so I know what you are thinking. Can you tell me more?
– You said___ or ____? (Give a right answer as one of the options,)

Examples of teacher elaborations in response to student silence:

– I think you know something about this, and I would like to hear what you have to say.
– I’m going to come back to you and ask you again. Please get ready to talk with us.
– I want to hear from you in this lesson. Get ready with an answer or a question.
– I expect you to know this/to have something to say. Let me know when you are ready.

General expressions in the classroom:

Take attendance/roll call – present, absent, late or excused
“I slept in” – jeg sov over…
If you have a lot of “lates” or “absents”…

You’re distracted by your phone – cell phone

I don’t appreciate your tone

Don’t pack up before the bell

You didn’t study, I can tell

The learning goals are…


Begin with/by:
I’d like to begin with…
I would like to start off by/with

Base on:
It is based on (Reason)
It is based in (geographically)

Come up with…
I’d like you to come up with… some ideas(etc..

Deal with:
We need to deal with…

Move on to:
I’d like to move on to…
Moving on to….

Refer to:
Refer to (page) – Please refer to page 47 if you want more information
I’ll be referring that to your teacher

To conclude:
To conclude today’s…
We did this/that….

I will conclude today’s lesson by asking you…

put up/raise your hand – ask your question – get your answer
take out … your notebooks/earphones – take out your book
take your seat(s) (trying to get organized)
turn to page…
want you to work in pairs/work in groups – To be specific: work in “groups of three”
please pay attention to…

Didn’t hear:
I didn’t catch … the last part/the part about – I’m having trouble hearing you

Could you repeat that please? Could you say that again?

Can you please speak more slowly?

You can always ask for more specifics…

Can you give me/us an example of this…

Could you write that on the board please?

Could we have some more details please?

I’m afraid I missed that…

What is on the test/exam – what is the material?

You’ve been most helpful
I’m afraid I don’t know

Pay your field trip fee today!

Shutting them up:

Now look here (Brian)
Right then Brian, that’s great, but…
Ok that’s fine Brian but…

Filler Phrases:

How shall I put it?
How can I explain this?
What’s the best way to put this?
What I’m trying to say is…
Now let me put it this way…



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