Date of Award

Winter 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Denny Wolfe

Committee Member

Jack Robinson

Committee Member

John Broderick

Committee Member

Jane Hager

Committee Member

Stephen G. Greiner


The quality of instruction in English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) programs is of utmost concern to urban educators as more and more non-native speakers settle in urban areas and need better language skills to participate fully in American society. Training of ESL instructors is often difficult, given the limited resources of most programs. In ESL, a close study of classroom discourse has long been considered particularly useful, but undirected classroom observation is of limited use because what novices notice in the classroom is often inaccurate or irrelevant. Ways are needed to focus beginning teachers' observations. Over several decades, discourse analysts have devised methods for describing discourse, many of which have focused on the classroom. This study chose three distinctly different methods of describing classroom interaction. It was hypothesized that if the insights gained through these methods are congruent with the insights of experienced teachers, they might be used to focus student teachers' observations. Twelve sessions of a listening-speaking class were videotaped, and transcripts made. After examining the data, the teacher shared with the researcher his insights into the classroom interaction. Two student teachers were then presented with selected data, and their observations noted. The experienced teacher's conclusions and observations differed considerably from those of the novices. Parts of the data were then analyzed using the three previously selected methods. The analyses proved to be congruent with the experienced teacher's viewpoint, suggesting their potential use as a teacher training tool. The study showed one drawback to such use: transcription of classroom data is technically difficult and time-consuming. In spite of that drawback, more such studies are recommended, as a means of bringing the insights of linguistic research into the classroom.