Vocabulary in teacher talk in an EAL Literature class in an international school
Specialised vocabulary in secondary school/Middle School
The sample of teacher talk that follows comes from an EAL class at Grade 6 (11-12-year-old students) in an international school in Germany (Coxhead, 2017b) shows how an English Literature class integrates grammar and literature. In this example (Figure 5.1), the teacher and students are discussing a punctuation point in relation to a story they are reading.
The teacher talk sample in Figure 5.1 contains two words from Greene’s Middle School grammar and writing list: possessive and apostrophe. This teacher talk example illustrates well that the students in this class need to know the specialised vocabulary of English grammar and literature in order to understand the teacher talk. The teacher scaffolds and checks understanding using questions.
Figure 5.2 comes from a sample of teacher talk a little later in the school year. In this example, the teacher is working directly on vocabulary learning by drawing deliberate attention to a target word, in this case centre, and eliciting aspects of vocabulary knowledge from the learners. Note that the column on the right has notes on the focus of the teacher talk at each point.
Figure 5.1 An example of grammar integrated into a Literature class in an international school
The example in Figure 5.2 shows clearly how the teacher focuses on aspects of knowing a word such as meaning, word families and strategies for learning vocabulary, all in a short space of time in class. These aspects of knowing a word relate to Nation’s (2013) elements of word knowledge: form, meaning and use. The next section looks at vocabulary in Mathematics at school.
Figure 5.2 Example from an EAL lesson in an international school