The Role of Student Silent Behaviour in an Adult Pre-Intermediate Communicative Language Learning Classroom Setting

PhD Thesis

Ekici, Gail. 2022. The Role of Student Silent Behaviour in an Adult Pre-Intermediate Communicative Language Learning Classroom Setting. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

The Role of Student Silent Behaviour in an Adult Pre-Intermediate Communicative Language Learning Classroom Setting

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorEkici, Gail
1. FirstA/Pr Ann Dashwood
2. SecondProf Shirley O'Neill
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages339
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

This study explores the Adult Silent Period (ASP) when learning in Second Language Acquisition (SLA). It responds to the paucity of research in SLA regarding how ASP is treated in classrooms. This research surveyed advance bilingual speakers of English to their views of 'breaking their silent period' during their journey as beginners/pre-intermediate English as an added language (EAL) learners. Findings show that that their silent period was not treated by their teachers due to 'pedagogical barriers'. Competent Bilinguals said that there was too much emphasis on form rather than meaning. The main reason for paucity on this topic is because for several decades the teaching of English as an additional language (EAL) has focused on communicative language teaching (CLT) to encourage students to use English to make meaningful conversations. However, the effectiveness of this social constructivist approach for students with lower levels of English at the pre-intermediate level is relatively unknown. Moreover, it is also well recognised that many learners at this low proficiency level remain silent in class and do not attempt to use the language. Thus, this research explores this silent behaviour with respect to adult students in EAL classes at the pre-intermediate level. Using classroom video stimulation with EAL teachers, it investigates (1) what happens during periods of silence among such students with lower proficiency in English, (2) how these students perceive and experience their personal silences in an EAL classroom, and (3) how their teachers understand and respond in classes to students' silences. The 'silent period' in second language acquisition (SLA) was originally defined as a behaviour exhibited generally by children. It has since been applied to adults when they are building language competence through listening in the initial phase of their language learning (Krashen, 1981) and has been neglected with regards to adult lower-level language learners. By focusing on the classroom learning environment and both students' and teachers' pedagogical experiences, triangulation of the data provided an in-depth study of the phenomenon of 'silence'. The research findings reveal a need for teacher awareness that can be gained through professional development. More specifically the research highlights inadequacies in teachers' pedagogical knowledge and skills regarding the implementation of the communicative approach, particularly with respect to adapting their own use of the English language. For instance, to engage with these students at the formulaic level, it was recommended that they understand the students' language learning progression and have the pedagogical skills to create opportunities for meaningful communication. The research also adds to knowledge in the field through the case study method that gave voice to both students and teachers.

KeywordsPedagogical Barriers; Adult Silent Period; Krashen silent period: Learner Participation
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
470306. English as a second language
390108. LOTE, ESL and TESOL curriculum and pedagogy
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
Permalink -

Download files

Published Version
Gullu Ekici - Thesis.pdf
File access level: Anyone

  • 242
    total views
  • 143
    total downloads
  • 10
    views this month
  • 12
    downloads this month

Export as