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Title: Topic development in Thai EFL classes : a conversation analytic perspective
Author: Supakorn, Sumita
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 6507
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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This study investigates topic development in EFL classrooms at a university in Thailand, adopting CA as the research methodology. The majority of previous CA research into topic has focused on explicating talk in ordinary conversations, and only a few studies have been conducted in institutional settings, with EFL contexts particularly ignored. There is also a lack of studies which examine how exactly topics are developed through talk in EFL classrooms and how they express explicitly their reflexive relationship with institutional goals. This study therefore aims to extend existing knowledge by focusing on how topic, as a central concept co-constructed by teachers and students and students and their peers during the course of their talk, is related to the pedagogical purpose in different L2 classroom contexts (Seedhouse, 2004). More specifically, the machinery of topic development, combined with the organisation of turn-taking, sequence and repair, is examined inductively using CA. The data were selected from a database of audio and video recordings of 11 hours of EFL lessons. By following the pedagogical focus and what actually happens during the teachers’ and students’ conversational procedures in two different L2 classroom contexts, namely meaning-and-fluency and task-oriented contexts, certain patterns of topic initiation, shifting and ending are uncovered. The findings demonstrate that topic delivers the institutional business by developing a dual-faceted character. Topic-as-workplan is static, homogenous and pre-determined for all teachers and students whereas topic-in-process is dynamic and heterogeneous talk-in-interaction, with the teachers and students talking a topic into being so that the same topic-as-workplan results in different ways that turn-taking is organised with respect to topic-in-process when performed by different teachers and students. In relation to topic development in two classroom meaning-and-fluency contexts, the findings show that epistemic imbalance (Heritage, 2012) between the teacher and the students plays a vital role in driving sequences of talk and topic in one classroom, but not in the other. While the topic observed in the meaning-and-fluency context is developed in the normative epistemic iii sense, the topics-in-process progress through the imagination of the students in the task-oriented contexts, which involve role-play. Variable approaches are thus necessary in the analysis and evaluation of participation in the development of topic in different L2 classroom contexts. This present study argues that much remains to be investigated in terms of the micro-interactional practices used by teachers and students in L2 classrooms and as part of an overall architecture of how participants develop particular topics in relation to the specific pedagogical focus in which they are engaged. The study also suggests that research into institutionality of interaction should probe more closely the role of topic in relation to institutional goals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Thammasat University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available