Trying to teach dialogically: The good, the bad, and the misguided

David P. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of dialogic teaching is to position students as active participants who engage in academically accountable talk, but research consistently suggests that a major stumbling block is the teacher’s own interactional style. To explore the issue from an emic perspective, I carried out an action research investigation of advanced proficiency classes for English as a foreign language (EFL) that I taught on the university level in Japan. Data included audiotaped recordings of teacher-fronted whole-class discussions that were analysed qualitatively. I found that the effort to teach dialogically was somewhat successful, but missteps and misguided assumptions about effective instructional strategies were also evident. Findings point to both the complexities of orchestrating active engagement of reticent students within the third space of the second language (L2) classroom, and the critical role of teacher authority to elicit and coordinate student engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-804
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1


  • accountable talk
  • classroom interaction
  • dialogic teaching
  • reflective practice
  • third space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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