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Requesting in Elementary School Classrooms

Robert L. Politzer
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 165-174
DOI: 10.2307/3586311
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3586311
Page Count: 10
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Requesting in Elementary School Classrooms
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Abstract

Classes were videotaped of nineteen third-grade teachers teaching a lesson in the use of standard English negation to children who are dominantly speakers of vernacular Black English. Verbal interactions taking place in the classes of five teachers whose pupils scored highest (Group A), and of five teachers whose pupils scored lowest (Group B) on a posttest (adjusted by a pretest score) were studied. Patterns of requests performed by pupils and teachers were observed. The frequency of teacher requests overwhelmingly outweighed those of the pupils. The most common forms taken by teacher requests were direct imperative, subject matter information questions, and questions soliciting actions. Group A teachers used a much higher proportion of direct imperative requests than Group B teachers. The adjusted frequency of instruction-related imperatives significantly differentiated Group A from Group B teachers. The findings are interpreted as leading to an hypothesis concerning the efficiency of directive teaching in elementary school language arts and as demonstrating the usefulness of a motivational type of discourse as an approach to the solution of pedagogical problems.

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