Turn-taking in multilingual classroom interaction

  • Brian Ramadiro University of Fort Hare


This paper takes a conversational analysis (CA) or sequential approach to multilingualism to document and analyse classroom participation structures created by specific types of turn-taking and languaging practices. The setting was selected Grade 6 to 9 English language and English-medium content lessons in rural classrooms in the Eastern Cape. Three named language varieties are used in these classrooms, i.e., isiMpondo, isiXhosa and English. The study identified five turn-taking patterns, described their features, and analysed their functions. The research finds that (i) turn-taking types and the varieties through which they are implemented are valued differently in a classroom setting from the way they would be valued in an everyday setting, and (ii) that classroom turn-taking and language use are shaped by broader institutional factors, such as institutional goals and participants’ roles, rather than turn-by-turn sequential factors, as hypothesised by a CA approach to multilingual interaction. The paper concludes by presenting a summary of the study’s conclusions and findings and a discussion of the implications of the findings for a CA/sequential approach to bi- or multilingual talking in classroom interaction.


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Author Biography

Brian Ramadiro, University of Fort Hare
Brian Ramadiro teaches language and literacy in the Faculty of Education, University of Fort Hare. His main research interests are bi/multilingualism and designing, implementing and researching literacy interventions. Email address: bramadiro@ufh.ac.za