Legitimate talk in feedback conferences

Fiona Copland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feedback on performance is a feature of professional training. Much feedback is delivered in post-observation conferences where a ‘trainer’ will discuss the ‘trainee's’ performance with him/her. What transpires in these conferences, however, is ‘hidden from view’ (Heritage and Sefi 1992: 362) and the norms of interaction are largely unexamined in the literature. Even less is known about feedback conducted in groups, yet many teachers training to teach English experience feedback in this way. This article provides a discourse analysis of four extracts from group feedback conferences on a pre-service programme for teachers of English language. Drawing on the concept of ‘legitimate talk’, the analysis shows how topics and speaking rights are established and negotiated and how participants orientate to and contest both the forms of knowledge that emerge and the speaking rights. While the study was not initially designed to support trainers in their professional development, the argument is made that data from linguistic ethnographic studies can be used by research participants and others for these purposes, thus enhancing the relationship between the researcher and the researched.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • feedback
  • performance
  • professional training
  • post-observation conferences
  • feedback conferences


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