Evidence-based support for effective classroom interaction and language use in primary English instruction

  • Maria Nilsson Uppsala University


Teachers’ use of the target language is a crucial aspect of instructed language learning, especially so in the case of English teaching in primary school, which aims to foster motivation, confidence and oral engagement in English, but also support the overall development of each child. Although contemporary research rejects exclusive target-language use, monolingual approaches are still regarded good practice in many educational settings, as they are thought to promote learning. Yet, language learning is a cognitive, but also a social and emotional endeavor, and language use in the classroom therefore needs to be considered beyond the cognitive and linguistic dimensions of language input. The professional discourse, however, lacks a comprehensive and nuanced way of describing the various classroom functions, consequences and motives that may underpin the use of the target language and the first language. The Teaching through Interactions framework (Hamre et al., 2013) was developed to capture teacher effectiveness and quality in primary education in general. This article argues that examining language use through the socioemotional, organizational and instructional domains of instruction that are outlined in this model, facilitates our understanding of the various considerations at play in the language classroom and highlights the close link between quality and language use in the primary classroom. The framework may be useful for teachers, teacher educators and student teachers to identify, systematize and share their deliberations in relation to language choice, and advance the professional discourse at all levels of education.