The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Marya Tuetsch-Dwyer

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Ramon Serrano

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Sociolinguistics, Teacher Talk, Foreign Language Instruction, Quantity, Frequency


The data was collected as digital audio recordings of each teacher's speech in the two environments. It was transcribed, divided into 10-second segments from which six were selected at random for further analysis, and examined for quantity (syllables per minute, words per minute, T-Units) and linguistic modifications.

Both parts of the hypothesis were disproved. I discovered most participants used more words and syllables per minute in the classroom than in the interview. One hypothesis to explain this trend might be that it required more language to express the same idea in a classroom, with a less proficient audience, than in an interview, with a highly proficient interlocutor. With a more proficient audience, a speaker may be able to use more concise and difficult vocabulary to express his ideas. In addition, speakers used more modifications during the interview than in the classroom. Each participant produced certain linguistic modifications at a higher frequency than others. There was a diverse range of preferred modification strategy among participants but patterns arose within each individual.

These findings may have broader implications for the second language classroom. In order to understand if there is a link between teacher talk (TT) and student learning, researchers may investigate the answers to these questions: Is language modification a conscious choice? Do second language teachers modify their speech differently among registers? What is the role of prosodic features and body language? What variables affect a speaker's choice of linguistic modifications? Future research could include a larger pool of participants and a more comprehensive analysis of linguistic features of TT.


I extend the utmost gratitude and respect to all faculty at St. Cloud State University. A special message of appreciation to my advisor, Dr. Marya Teutsch-Dwyer, and committee members: Dr. Jim Robinson, and Dr. Ramon Serrano. I would like to recognize the following faculty who individually, through their instruction and mentorship, have guided this project in ways only I know (in alphabetical order by department and name): English Department: Dr. Ettien Koffi, Dr. Cindy Moore; Human Relations: Jesse Benjamin, Polly Kellogg, Tamrat Tademe; Teacher Education: Jan Frank. Thank you all for asking questions that challenged me to become a better thinker.

Every interaction between teachers and students can be analyzed from multiple perspectives (how effective is it pedagogically, what conception oflanguage is implicated in the instruction, what messages related to status and power are being communicated, etc.).

Jim Cummins Language, Power and Pedagogy (2000, p. 29)



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