Teacher Talk and Teacher Cognition

Gestures and language teaching: multimodal aspects of teacher talk

by Pierangela Diadori, Università per Stranieri di Siena

Teacher talk in the foreign language class is crucial especially with beginners. Not all teachers are aware of the language they use to talk to their students and even less of the non verbal codes they have at their disposal. Gestures have a special role in foreign language teaching. Their use is relevant when teachers need to make transparent the meaning of their words with learners with low competence in the foreign language. Especially mimetic gestures are used with this purpose, with astonishing similarities with the signs of the deaf community sign language. Gestures are also crucial to enhance attention and comprehension in the students, to foster memorization and to help their scaffolding techniques. The observation of classroom interactions shows that often students react to teachers’ gestures and smile or eye contact by a so called “mirroring effect”: while they repeat the teacher’s words they often repeat also his/her gesture. This has a further consequence: teaching a foreign language needs to be related to the presentation of the gestures typical of the foreign culture, to their register and meaning, in order to avoid misunderstandings and to allow the development of a pragmatic competence which is deeply related with the linguistic and a sociolinguistic ones.

Data-driven examples will be illustrated and discussed, also by means of videorecordings taken from a corpus of around 200 video-recorded lessons of Italian as a foreign language, collected in Italy and abroad during the last ten years and transcribed according to Jefferson transcription system (CLODIS database).

Voices from Life: English-medium instruction

by Joyce Kling Soren, CIP/Engerom

I will present the results of a multiple case study in which I investigated how 10 experienced lecturers in the natural sciences at UCPH define their own teacher identity and their perceptions of any effects on their identity when shifting from Danish-medium instruction to English-medium instruction. This study utilized a multi-method approach to delve into the teachers’ cognitions. This approach comprised classroom observation of graduate level lectures, stimulated recall of these teaching events, and individual semi-structured interviews with the lecturers. The analysis drew on input from these interviews of the lecturers’ comments and concerns related specifically to their underlying teacher cognitions about professional expertise, professional authority, and professional identity when teaching outside one's mother tongue in a multicultural, multilingual setting.

The results fall into three general categories: 1) reflections on teacher cognition studies; 2) a model of teacher identity for lecturers in the natural sciences, and 3) evidence that experienced NNS lecturers of natural science EMI do not find that the identified challenges of teaching in a foreign language affect their personal sense of teacher identify. The lecturers highlight teaching experience and pedagogic content knowledge as factors that support their teacher identity. While the findings here report that these lecturers express confidence and security in the EMI context, the results also confirm the instructional and linguistic challenges identified in previous EMI research. This suggests that university management need to acknowledge these challenges and develop and implement both linguistic and pedagogic competence training programs to support the needs of less experienced EMI lecturers.

All are welcome!

This is an Engerom focus event within the research platform Language in Higher Education. Afterwards, the Department offers a glass of wine.