The dynamics of classroom small talk

Ching Man LUK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This paper illustrates how classroom small talk between a teacher and students constitutes a distinct interaction pattern which varies significantly from pedagogical discourse of an institutional nature such as the initiation/response/feedback (IRF) pattern described in previous literature (Mehan, 1979 ; Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975). By presenting a piece of extended small talk in an ESL secondary classroom in Hong Kong and contrasting it with a piece of typical teacher-orchestrated institutional classroom talk, I show how the teacher and students demonstrate more dynamic and less asymmetrical roles during small talk with clear evidence of active contributions to the exchange by the students in terms of topic setting, turn initiation, turn development, and negotiation of meaning. Features of the small talk resemble everyday social discourse. Implications of this kind of classroom talk on the learners’ L2 language development are explored. Copyright © 2003 University of California, Los Angeles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-132
JournalIssues in Applied Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


Luk, J. (2003/2004). The dynamics of classroom small talk. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 14(2), 115-132.


  • Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning


Dive into the research topics of 'The dynamics of classroom small talk'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.