What Counts as Evidence for Foreign Language Learning in Primary School?

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In an ongoing study I analyze how displays on classroom walls can be used as a tool for teachers to evaluate young English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners’ goal-attainment, in that teachers can observe in what way learners orient to and interact with these displays. Meaningful classroom displays function as a documentation of both past and present goals for learning. When learners interact with objects in class, they make observable to the teacher that they have learned something or are currently learning. For instance, weaker students look at those displays more often than advanced learners, who might ignore these displays, and teachers can observe whether students orient to the displays through gaze and body posture or not. Teachers can make use of this observable behavior when they wish to assess and evaluate to what extent their students have achieved specific learning goals.
This current study is an extension of the above mentioned study, in that it presents a longitudinal investigation of the use of a specific classroom display in a Danish 3rd grade EFL class in two lessons four months apart. Applying a multimodal approach to conversation analysis, this study analyzes in what way the teacher and the students make use of a poster with the English names of the days of the week while singing a song about the days of the week.
In the first lesson, the teacher orients to the poster as a resource for learning, as he – in tune with the song – points at and thereby directs the students’ gaze to the weekdays currently sung about. Additionally, the teacher makes noticeable pauses instead of continuing to sing when pointing at the poster, which gets the students’ attention. In the second lesson four months later, we can observe a different behavior. While singing, the teacher does not constantly point at the poster and look at his students like in the first lesson. Instead, he does things not related to the singing, such as starting up the computer and looking for things in his bag. At one point, the teacher does point at the poster, but the students are not looking. At the end of the song, the teacher sings the last line in a “funny” voice, and the students join in.
I conclude that the purpose of the poster has developed over time from being a resource for learning to a tool for epistemic status check. By not looking at the poster in the second session even though their teacher points at it, the students make observable that they have learned the song and do not need the poster as an aid anymore. The teacher's singing the song in a funny voice may signal that they are done learning for now as he takes the children's behavior as evidence for learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date8. Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 8. Sep 2015
EventHUMAN Social Interaction and Applied Linguistics Postgraduate Conference - Hacettepe University, Beytepe Campus, Ankara, Turkey
Duration: 7. Sep 20158. Sep 2015


ConferenceHUMAN Social Interaction and Applied Linguistics Postgraduate Conference
LocationHacettepe University, Beytepe Campus


  • conversation analysis
  • classroom displays
  • epistemic status check


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