Language use in real-time interactions during early elementary science lessons: The bidirectional dynamics of the language complexity of teachers and students

Menninga, A., van Dijk, M., Steenbeek, H. & van Geert, P., 2017, In : Language Learning. 67, 2, p. 284-320 36 p.

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  • Language Use in Real-Time Interactions

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This study explored bidirectional sequential relations between the real-time language use of teachers and pupils in naturalistic science lessons from a dynamic approach. It also compared experienced teachers (N = 22) with relative starters (student teachers, N = 8) when it comes to such relations. Verbal interactions were transcribed and coded at the utterance level for syntactic complexity, lexical density of content word use, and open-ended teacher questions. The sequential analyses provided evidence for the existence of a bidirectional relation in our data, meaning that both teachers and pupils are sensitive to each other’s use of complex and dense language. In addition, the use of open-ended teacher questions was related to complex and dense pupil utterances. The comparison between experienced teachers and student teachers revealed that the sequential patterns were stronger in the case of experienced teachers, suggesting that there are more flexible adaptation processes in this group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-320
Number of pages36
JournalLanguage Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • early elementary science education, language, real-time interaction, bidirectional relation, sequential analysis, PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM, CHILDRENS LANGUAGE, ACADEMIC LANGUAGE, LITERACY, INTERVENTION, INSTRUCTION, CURRICULUM, PATTERNS, QUALITY, LEARN

ID: 35390299