Teacher-Student Talk in the One to One Writing Conference: Who Talks More and Why?


  • Zulfi Qureshi University of Central Lancashire




education, writing, conferences


The one to one writing conference between a teacher and student is often viewed as an ideal space for student autonomy. Yet conferences are also instances of 'institutional talk', which are characterised by asymmetry in the relative power each participant enjoys during the interaction and the discursive devices they are able to employ. Much of the literature on conferences has been based on native speakers, yet with an increasingly internationalised populace within UK higher education, there is a need to evaluate international student autonomy, who may face greater challenges due to unfamiliarity with the genre and their spoken linguistic proficiency. This paper derives from an on-going doctoral study that seeks to examine the power relations that occur within the second language writing conference between a teacher and an international student on an International Foundation programme at UCLAN. This study will report on a first step that was taken in measuring conference interaction from a quantitative perspective and relating it to the contextual factors of institutional role and participant beliefs.  The findings suggest that teachers dominate the conference interaction in terms of words spoken, turns used and average length of turns. This conversational dominance seems related to the defined roles the institution assigns each participant and the beliefs they carry into the conferences.