Understanding proficiency-oriented silence in the context of EAL

(1) * Gail Ekici Mail (Latrobe University, Australia)
*corresponding author


This mixed methods, case study focuses on adult second language learning and their silences in a pre-intermediate level class, where they experience a potentially difficult time reaching the point of Target language proficiency. The findings of this study respond to the paucity of research on the problem adult student silence in a pre-intermediate language classroom by investigating the pre-intermediate language learning experiences of competent bilingual adults reflecting back on learning English as a second language (EAL) in Australia.  The findings give reason for why students are silent in class. Analysis of student reflections combined with the EAL teachers’ interviews identified a pedagogical barrier. These barriers caused them to be silent because most of the teachers teaching content at this level were not trained to teach students who approximately break their silence at this level, and need a particular teaching approach to help them. The findings show that there needs to be a reform in approach during adult silent period which happens to be approximately at pre-intermediate level (Ekici, 2022). The need for teacher professional development on being able to adapt their English language classroom talk to foster spoken interactions was seen as priority. Finings have shown that the nuanced dynamic between what teachers think they are doing and what students know they are trying to achieve in many cases fail to match. Teacher and learner confusion about each other’s' styles, the struggle to teach and learner in which both pedagogy and silence are mutually problematic, and above all else, the need for empathy for student learning and the need to customise a pedagogy to suit it to avoid untreated proficiency silence which can be detrimental (Ekici, 2022).



anxiety; proficiency-oriented silence; classroom interaction; teacher professional development; silences pedagogical barriers; output; silent period




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