Whole class interaction in the adult L2-classroom: The case of Swedish for immigrants

Åsa Wedin, Annika Norlund Shaswar

Classroom interaction, Swedish for immigrants, Adult education, Meaning negotiation


This article focuses on verbal interaction in whole class teaching in second language education for adults in Sweden. The article draws on theories treating language as multiple resources that are situated and embedded in material life, and including complex and diverse linguistic, semiotic, physical material and social resources. The material for the article was created in a project based in linguistic ethnography in the form of an action research project, including two municipal Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) schools. The interaction patterns that occurred challenged students’ language proficiency in ways that stimulated meaning negotiation through what we call extended interactions. This stresses the social aspect of interaction, which in these cases included the whole, or nearly the whole, class, students and the teacher. However, in whole class teaching, the space for each interlocutor is limited, and as our experience from other classrooms suggests that group tasks are not frequent in SFI classrooms, there seem to be reasons for the development of teaching practices that include more frequent use of interaction in small groups that offer students more space for interaction. We also see a need for developing more culture-sensitive pedagogies and making more space for the multilingual negotiation of meaning.

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