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Aspects of Teacher-centered Communication in Conversations between Teachers and Learners in the Korean Language Classroom

  • The Sociolinguistic Journal of Korea
  • Abbr : 사회언어학
  • 2004, 12(2), pp.233-260
  • Publisher : The Sociolinguistic Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > Linguistics

Jaehee Jin 1

1연세대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper examines how and why asymmetrical relationships are constituted through verbal interactions between teachers and students in the Korean language classroom. According to van Dijk (1989), 'power' in institutions such as hospitals or classrooms is best conceptualized as ‘group power asymmetrical relations’ between groups. As is the case for institutional members, members of dominant groups may derive their individually exercised power from the overall power of the group to which they belong. Speakers often possess an institutional role and their conversations are backed by the power or authority of the institution. From this perspective, this paper examines how power is being exerted and assigned in conversations between teachers and students in the Korean classroom. First, this research examined if the turns at talk for the participants (teacher and students) were equally distributed. The results showed that the teacher took about 50% of the total turns at talk, which is about eight times as many turns taken by each student. This indicates that the flow of classroom conversation starts from the teacher, or in other words, is teacher-centered communication. Second, this research considered inequality that occurs during problem solving meaning negotiation. Research results also showed that in 165 negotiated exchanges, over 85% were initiated by the teacher, which underscores the extremely asymmetrical instigation of conversation in Korean language classrooms. Student deficiencies in fluency and initiation, teacher questioning methodology and dialogue guidance, the teacher's almost exclusive right to choose the topic, the excessive adaptation of students to the classroom environment as well as the nationality of students were all factors contributing to this phenomenon.

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