Examining classroom talk in elementary grade 8 ESL classroom of a private and a public school in Upper Chitral

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr Sherwin Rodrigues


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


With the emergence of English as the global lingua franca, learning the English language is considered important for success in today’s globalized world. The importance of learning English language is further magnified in countries like Pakistan, where command over the English language has a direct bearing on the socioeconomic status of people in the society. However, learning English as a second language in a non-English speaking country from nonnative speakers is a challenge in itself. In such settings there a multitude of factors that hinder the learning of the second language including but not limited to the student’s prior knowledge of the language, qualification of the teachers, the teaching methodologies used, and the environment in which the language is being learned. An often-overlooked factor that has important and direct impact on the teaching and learning of the English language is the classroom talk. This is because in such settings, classroom is the place where the students not only get to learn the English language, but it is often the only place where they get to practice it as well. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the nature of classroom talk in elementary ESL classrooms in two schools located in northern Pakistan where English is used as a second language. For this purpose, a qualitative case study design was used. Classroom talk was investigated by examining the pattern of classroom talk, the types of questions asked by the teacher and the students, the students’ responses, the nature of the teacher's feedback, and the symmetry of the teacher talk and the student talk. Data were collected through non-participative observations of lessons, audio recordings of the lessons, semi-structured interviews with the ESL teachers, and focus group discussions (FDGs) with the students. The results show that Initiation-Response- Feedback (IRF) pattern was the most recurring pattern of classroom talk in the selected schools. Besides the IRF pattern, choral reading and grammar-translation were also observed as patterns of classroom talk in the public school only. Furthermore, in both the schools, the teachers frequently asked questions; however, the questions were mostly closed-ended, which elicited short and predictable response from the students. Moreover, the teacher's feedback on students' responses was mostly positive. Additionally, the students rarely asked questions in class. Finally, in both classrooms, the classroom talk was largely led by the teacher who took up more linguistic space than the students. In light of these findings, this research recommends that teachers should ask open-ended questions in the ESL classroom and encourage the students to take up more linguistic space.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library