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Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory

Editor-in-Chief: Gries, Stefan Th.

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A corpus-based look at short turns in university classroom interaction

1San Diego State University

Citation Information: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 103–128, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI: 10.1515/cllt-2012-0005, April 2012

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The aim of the present study is to explore the lexical content of short turns in university classroom discourse. Corpus-based techniques were applied to identify a large number of turns to analyze their lexical content in over two hundred university class sessions. The findings show that, although students take sixty per cent of the turns in our university classrooms, they use only twenty per cent of the total number of words. Consequently, students would produce short turns most of the times while teachers would engage in longer stretches of talk. The results also indicate that short turns generally mark intensive interactional sequences. More specifically, a closer look at the lexical items in these short turns and the functions they serve clearly show that while teachers offer support, elicit further elaboration or prompt reformulation, students mostly indicate agreement, understanding and involvement with these short turns. Considering the turn as a unit of analysis and its characteristic features such as turn-length and lexical variation, the findings of the lexical analysis of short turns suggest that participant roles can be well-defined in the classroom context.

Keywords:: corpus linguistics; classroom interaction; English for Academic Purposes; lexical patterns; turn-length; short turn; talk-at-turn

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