Private Speech in Teacher-learner Interactions in an EFL Context: A Sociocultural Perspective

Document Type: Original Article

Author

Islamic Azad University – Kermanshah Branch, Iran

Abstract

Theoretically framed within Vygotskyan sociocultural theory (SCT) of mind, the present study investigated resurfacing of private speech markers by Iranian elementary female EFL learners in teacher-learner interactions. To this end, an elementary EFL class including 12 female learners and a same-sex teacher were selected as the participants of the study. As for the data, six 30-minute reading comprehension tasks with the interval of every two weeks were videotaped, while each participant was provided with a sensitive MP3 player to keep track of very low private speech markers. Instances of externalized private speech markers were coded and reports were generated for the patterns of private speech markers regarding their form and content. While a high number of literal translation, metalanguage, and switching to L1 mid-utterance were reported, the generated number of such private markers as self-directed questions, reading aloud, reviewing, and self-explanations in L2 was comparatively less which could be due to low L2 proficiency of the learners. The findings of the study, besides highlighting the importance of paying more attention to private speech as a mediating tool in cognitive regulation of learners in doing tasks in L2, suggest that teachers’ type of classroom practice is effective in production of private speech. Pedagogically speaking, the results suggest that instead of seeing L1 private speech markers as detrimental to L2 learning, they should be seen as signs of cognitive regulation when facing challenging tasks.

Keywords