Creating an enabling enviornment for student talk in ESL primary classrooms

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The last twenty years have seen a discernible shift in the teaching of English Language. Reading and Writing are no longer to be the sole focus of primary teachers. Speaking and Listening, for a long time neglected aspects, are to be given equal importance with the traditional first two aspects of literacy. Recent research has indicated the importance of talk in the learning process. Oral language, both talking and listening, is a lifetime activity; it enhances pupils' understanding of language in both oral and written forms and of the way language can be used to communicate. Despite all the emphasis on talk in the learning process, it has been found that insufficient student talk is being carried out in schools. The situation is all the more alarming in the Pakistani context. Teachers lack this understanding. They feel that talk obstructs learning and actively discourage children from initiating any kind of talk in the classroom. Such classroom environment encourages a depressing passivity and isolation among learners and is detrimental for their academic and social growth. This study set out to address one teaching strategy enquiring how effective it is on creating a conducive environment to promote student talk, and the implications of this strategy 'cooperative group work' on classroom practice. The study was carried out following the model of action research which involved implementing a series of activities in the classroom under study. The activities were monitored closely using multiple sources such as audio recording, observation techniques, reflective journals and students' work, The data was analyzed, keeping in view the qualitative research tradition. The study found that 'cooperative group work' is an effective strategy in creating a conducive environment for promoting student talk. Such a supportive non-threatening environment increases student learning outcomes, which further brings about the desired change in the teacher's perception about the role of talk in the learning process.

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