Trainer talk
: structures of interaction in teacher training classrooms

  • Simon Harris

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The subject of this research is interaction and language use in an institutional context, the teacher training classroom. Trainer talk is an interactional accomplishment and the research question is: what structures of talk-in-interaction characterise trainer talk in this institutional setting? While there has been research into other kinds of classroom and into other kinds of institutional talk, this study is the first on trainer discourse. The study takes a Conversation Analysis approach to studying institutional interaction and aims to identify the main structures of sequential organization that characterize teacher trainer talk as well as the tasks and identities that are accomplished in it.
    The research identifies three main interactional contexts in which trainer talk is done: expository, exploratory and experiential. It describes the main characteristics of each and how they relate to each other. Expository sequences are the predominant interactional contexts for trainer talk. But the research findings show that these contexts are flexible and open to the embedding of the other two contexts. All three contexts contribute to the main institutional goal of teaching teachers how to teach.
    Trainer identity is related to the different sequential contexts. Three main forms of identity in interaction are evidenced in the interactional contexts: the trainer as trainer, the trainer as teacher and the trainer as colleague. Each of them play an important role in teacher trainer pedagogy.
    The main features of trainer talk as a form of institutional talk are characterised by the following interactional properties:
    1. Professional discourse is both the vehicle and object of instruction - the articulation of reflection on experience.
    2. There is a reflexive relationship between pedagogy and interaction.
    3. The professional discourse that is produced by trainees is not evaluated by trainers but, rather, reformulated to give it relevant precision in terms of accuracy and appropriacy.
    Date of Award9 May 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorUrszula I Clark (Supervisor)


    • institutional interaction
    • teacher trainer talk
    • interaction and feedback in training

    Cite this