Reading comprehension interaction – a conversation analysis perspective

  • Gert J van der Westhuizen


Abstract: Interactions around texts for purposes of reading comprehension occur frequently in school classrooms. These interactions are dominated by teachers who determine the structure, flow, and questions asked about the meanings in the text. Such reading comprehension interactions display both a pedagogical structure, with the teacher ‘teaching for comprehension’, and a conversational structure, with participants interacting and conversing about the text. The focus of this article is on the conversational dimensions of such interactions. The purpose is to use current methods of conversation analysis to analyse a typical interaction in order to understand how the use of conversational techniques support reading comprehension. It explores how communicative activity plays out in terms of conversational features such as sequence organisation, response preferences, and repair actions. Findings of the study indicate that specific communicative actions work towards comprehension outcomes, and that these reflect the authenticity of each interaction sequence. Findings are discussed in terms of interaction theory and the implications for the facilitation of reading comprehension.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2012, 30(3): 361–375

Author Biography

Gert J van der Westhuizen
Department of Educational Psychology, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614