Response Tokens and Their Sequential Action in the Teacher Third Turn (Note 1) A Conversation Analysis Case Study in the EFL Classroom

Asma Ebshiana


In classroom settings, students` responses are regularly evaluated through the ubiquitous three-part sequence. It is through this pattern that teachers encourage student participation. Usually, the teacher uses response tokens such as “Okay”, Right” /” Alright”, “Mhm” “Oh”, in the third turn slot. These tokens are crucial and recurrent because they show where the teacher assesses the correctness or appropriateness of the students’ responses either end the sequence or begin a turn which ends the sequence. Moreover, such tokens have an impact on the sequence expansion and on the students’ participation. This article is a part of a large study examining the overall structure of the three-part sequence in data collected in an English pre-sessional programme (PSP) at the University of Huddersfield. The present article focuses on the analysis of naturally occurring data by using Conversation Analysis framework, henceforth (CA). A deep analysis is performed to examine how response tokens as evaluative responses are constructed sequentially in the third turn sequence as a closing action, whilst considering how some responses do not act as a closing sequence, since they elaborate and invite further talk. The results of response tokens have shown that they are greatly multifaceted. The analysis concluded that not all responses do the same function in the teacher’s third turn. Apart from confirming and acknowledging the student responses and maintaining listenership, some invite further contribution, others close and shift to another topic that designates closing the sequence, and some show a “change of state”. Their functions relate to their transitions, pauses and their intonation in the on-going sequence. 

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