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Now Fades the Glimmering...

Richard Benton

Is classroom interaction research worth the effort involved? Up till recently the main result of decades of work seemed to be that 'time on task' was the only thing you could be sure about: the more time a subject got the more learning took place. But time is a precious and finite commodity in a classroom, and new ways are needed of exploring its use. Is time itself of the essence, or are other (less easily quantifiable) factors also involved? Unfortunately researchers seem to assume that particular chunks (or slivers) of behaviour can be studied in isolation from the manifold concerns, activities and relationships which make up classroom life, and their view certainly does not fit at all well with how teachers see reality. And, the researchers are all too often 'here today and gone tomorrow'. However, a new variety and richness in the approach to the study of classroom interaction has begun. This article discusses the significance of a few of the more recent studies which touch on communication and language learning.

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