Issues in Applied Linguistics
Teachers' Answers to Students' Questions: Problematizing the Issue of Making Meaning
- Author(s): Markee, Numa P.
- et al.
This paper analyzes how three university ESL teachers answered students' requests for help in understanding unknown vocabulary items during lessons that were mediated via a task-based, small group methodology. While considerable individual variation was observed, it was found that teachers rarely answered students' questions directly. Instead, they tended to answer learners' referential questions with display questions of their own, a strategy that is called here a counter-question strategy. It is argued that the use of this strategy for making meaning problematizes issues in the second language acquisition literature on the social construction of comprehensible input and output. Alternative interpretations of the implications of this meaning making strategy for second language acquisition theory are offered as a basis for further research.