Discussions Without Argument in English Classrooms

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Yoko Kobayashi, International Christian University; Jitsuko Kitsuno, Tokyo Polytechnic University

Reference Data:

Kobayashi, Y., & Kitsuno, J. (2016). Discussions without argument in English classrooms. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & H. Brown (Eds.), Focus on the learner. Tokyo: JALT.

In this paper we examine the characteristics of classroom discussions in English among Japanese university students. It is often said that discussion is an effective way of teaching English at the university level because it can help to develop not only learners’ English skills, but also their critical thinking skills. In this study, the participants were told to discuss the following topic: “Should high school students join club activities?” We found that the participants did not scrutinize the topic from different perspectives or challenge other participants’ opinions. Analyzing the data based on M-GTA (modified grounded theory approach), we found 6 features in their discussion and organized them into 3 categories: limited perspectives, communication gaps, and going on-and-off the discussion. We believe that these findings will be beneficial for English teachers in Japanese tertiary education in terms of how they can plan to use discussions in their classrooms.