Kevin Wai Hin Tai is currently an MSc Student in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, U.K. He graduated from his BA (Honours) degree in English Language and Literature with First Class Honours at Newcastle University, U.K. in June 2017. He was awarded the Newcastle University Barbara Strang Best Performance Prize in Language and Linguistics for achieving the highest overall degree average in English Language and Linguistics. He was also awarded the Newcastle University Barbara Strang Runner-up Best Dissertation Prize in Language and Linguistics for his Honours dissertation entitled A Conversation Analysis of Learner-Initiated Responses in a Beginner-Level English as a Second Language Classroom for Adults. Previously, Kevin worked as Research Assistant in Applied Linguistics and Language Education at Newcastle University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong respectively. Kevin is a CELTA-qualified ESOL teacher and his research interests include second language teaching and learning, sociocultural theories, classroom interaction, content and language integrated learning and second language teacher education.

Video Abstract

Written Abstract

This conversational analytic-informed study aims to investigate the role of teacher’s feedback in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom. The study draws on multiple excerpts from an extended sequence of an interaction collected at INTO Newcastle University, United Kingdom. The findings demonstrate that explicit feedback is proved to be effective in leading to students’ uptake rather than being seen as not effective (Lyster and Ranta, 1997). Hand gestures, employed alongside the teacher’s feedback, play a significant role in raising the students’ awareness of the mismatch between their interlanguage and the target form, and encouraging students to repeat and self-correct the target form voluntarily. The findings reinforce the importance for future researchers to conduct a case-by-case emic analysis in order to fully understand how teachers to employ different types of feedback and interactional resources to create and facilitate learning opportunities in an acquisition-rich environment in the language classroom.


The role of feedback has long been recognised as an important topic in the field of second language (L2) teaching and learning, since teachers ‘use their judgements of [students’] knowledge or understanding to feedback into the teaching process and to determine […] whether to re-explain the task/concept, to give further practice on it, or to move on to the next stage’ (Tunstall and Gipps, 1996: 389). This essay offers an analysis of multiple excerpts from an extended sequence of an interaction from an intermediate ESL class at INTO Newcastle University. Several studies have investigated the different types of oral corrective feedback (CF) in the context of form-focused classroom activities (Lyster and Randa, 1997; Tsui, 2004; Ellis, 2009). However, not many studies have paid attention to the non-verbal aspects of the interaction, in particular hand gestures employed by teachers during the feedback and their role in students’ uptake. Adding to the existing literature on L2 teaching and learning research, the aim of this conversational analytic (CA)-informed study is to investigate what types of feedback, both positive and negative, are employed by the teacher with the use of interactional resources, and how effective they are in terms of facilitating language learning and interaction. The effectiveness of the types of feedback used by the teacher will be evaluated through examining students’ responses and reactions to the teacher’s feedback. This essay will first review the relevant literature on L2 teacher’s feedback and students’ uptake. It will look into different types of feedback and the connection between teacher’s feedback and students’ uptake. This essay will also briefly introduce the methodology used in this study and provide a description of the extended sequence of an interaction on which the subsequent data analysis is based. This essay will summarise the findings and conclude with a discussion of both theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

Literature Review

Teacher’s Feedback in the L2 Classroom

Most of the L2 classroom interaction research has paid attention to teacher’s feedback in conjunction with exploring the Initiation-Response-Feedback (IRF) sequence (Sinclair and Coulthard, 1975). The IRF structure is a typical type of teacher-student interaction pattern in a language classroom and Seedhouse (2004: 63) argues that IRF sequences ‘perform different interactional and pedagogical work according to the context in which they are operating’. Cognitively minded SLA researchers such as Mackey (2006: 45) suggest that feedback promotes language learning since ‘it promotes learners to notice L2 forms’. On the other hand, socio-culturally oriented Second Language Acquisition (SLA) researchers note that feedback is useful if it is sensitive to the L2 learner’s zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). Such sensitivity can be ‘captured by the regulatory scale’ which gives feedback options that ‘move gradually from the implicit, indicating something is wrong, to the explicit, give correction’ (Waring, 2008: 579). As Hall and Walsh (2002: 190) note, by employing a wide range of options in the feedback position, it can initiate ‘a dialogic interaction’ between the teacher and students.

Some researchers have considered the different types of the third teacher’s feedback slot in IRF. In general, these can be categorised as either positive or negative feedback. Positive feedback provides a signal to the students that their responses are, either in content or linguistically, satisfactory. Acknowledgment such as ‘very good’ is an example of positive feedback. On the other hand, negative feedback, which is also referred as corrective feedback (CF), is an indication to the learners that their utterance, is either in-content or linguistically incorrect. Lyster and Ranta (1997) identify six types of CF strategies that can be employed as a framework of analysing the effectiveness of different CF. Feedback types are classified as ‘explicit feedback’, ‘repetition’, ‘metalinguistic feedback’, ‘elicitation’, ‘recast’ and ‘clarification request’. Ellis (1999) also recognises a seventh type which is ‘confirmation check’ and Gass and Selinker (2008) recognises an eighth type which is ‘comprehension check’.

This essay will contribute to the existing classroom interaction research on teacher’s feedback by identifying which types of feedback, both positive and corrective, are the most commonly used in an intermediate adult ESL class, and how the use of teacher’s feedback can lead to students’ uptake, a possible fourth turn in the IRF sequence.

Students’ Uptake

Students’ uptake can be seen as the possible fourth turn after the IRF sequence. According to Lyster and Ranta (1997: 49), students’ uptake refers to a ‘student’s utterance that immediately follows the teacher’s feedback and that constitutes a reaction in some way to the teacher’s intention to draw attention to some aspects of student’s initial utterance’. There are three types of uptake: ‘repair’, ‘needs-repair’, and ‘no repair’ (Lyster and Ranta, 1997: 49). Ellis (2009) further distinguishes the terms between ‘successful uptake’ and ‘unsuccessful uptake’. He defines successful uptake as a type in which students either repair, or repeat the CF or demonstrate an ability to include the CF provided. However, unsuccessful uptake is referred when students do not repeat the CF or only acknowledge teacher’s feedback or fail to repair their errors.

Alternatively, Loewen (2004) argues that students’ production of uptake can suggest that the target language (TL) has been noticed. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the TL has not been noticed if the student fails to produce uptake. Mackey and Philip (1998) suggest that it is possible to notice and learn the TL without producing uptake. However, Lightbown (2000: 456) further argues that an uptake from the learner ‘gives some reasons to believe that the mismatch between learner utterance and target utterance has been noticed, a step at least toward acquisition’. This illustrates that successful uptake can be perceived as the result of a learner ‘noticing the gap’ (Schmidt, 1990) between his/her utterance and the TL.

With a successful uptake after the CF, it is shown that noticing will occur. However, the question still remains as to which types of feedback evoke uptake more effectively. Among the eight types of CF strategies that are mentioned in section 2.1, researchers have found that ‘recast’ and ‘explicit feedback’ are the most commonly used by teachers as forms of feedback, but they are proved to be the least effective in leading to language acquisition (Lyster and Ranta, 1997). In contrast, providing clues, such as employing metalinguistic feedback and elicitation that allow students to self-repair their responses, is found to promote ‘long-term acquisition of a specific language component’ (Lyster, 1998: 54). Waring (2009) also find out that the teacher’s provision of positive feedback based on the student’s correct response does not necessarily signify sequence closing or discourage further negotiation. Rather, it may encourage longer and more complex response from students.

As shown, teacher’s feedback can influence the occurrence of students’ uptake if students know whether an elaboration, repair, or adaptation of a prior response is required. It has been emphasised that the aim of teacher’s feedback turn has to be made noticeable for students to recognise it. However, not many studies have paid attention to the non-verbal aspects of the interaction employed by teachers during the feedback turn and their role in students’ uptake. Kelly et al. (2007), Allen (2000), and Guvendir (2011) note that using gestures to teach new lexical items can help students to better memorise the meetings of the words. It demonstrates that using non-verbal communication as an additional input can make the verbal input more comprehensible to learners. Kelly et al. (2007) suggest that the common hand gestures employed by L2 teachers are iconic and deictic gestures. According to McNeill (1992: 10), an iconic gesture helps to ‘imagistically represent object attributes, actions and spatial relationships’ and a deictic gesture refers to the ‘act of pointing […] these gestures connect some aspects of speech to some other idea, object, location or action’.

Therefore, it is important for this paper to have a detailed study of an extended sequence of an interaction. This will aid the investigation of how the teacher employs both verbal and non-verbal means to provide feedback for students and what kinds of feedback that will lead to students’ uptake and learning.

Methodology and Context of the Study

The data for this paper was taken from a two-hour long intermediate ESL class recording at INTO Newcastle University in February 2016. The video recording was collected by the author. The English Language programme at INTO Newcastle University was designed for international students who are planning to seek admission to an undergraduate degree at Newcastle University Business School. The teacher of the class was a native English speaker and he had extensive experience in teaching adult ESL students. Twelve international students were enrolled in the class. All of them were from China, and English was their second language. Their ages varied between eighteen and twenty. The students were approximately six months into the course when data was collected. Two video-cameras were used to capture the entirety of the classroom interactions. The data was transcribed by the author using the conventions developed by Jefferson (2004). The extracts have been selected from a transcript of a video-recording of two minutes from the beginning of the lesson when the teacher is explaining the differences between the noun and verb syllable stress. Prior to the relevant sequence, the teacher provides two groups of words to the class: ‘export’, ‘import’, ‘increase’, ‘advise’, and ‘record’, ‘delay’, ‘decrease’, ‘contract’. He then asks students to identify which word is different to the rest of words in each group. He also provides a hint for students to consider the pronunciation difference in each group of words.

In CA, analysts select a collection of excerpts to describe ‘a single phenomenon or a single domain of phenomenon’ (Schegloff, 1987: 101). Discovering the interactional patterns through analysing collection of instances is significant to this mode of analysis. CA allows researchers to focus on the interaction patterns emerged from the video-data rather than relying on any presumed theories or hypotheses which teachers may bring to the classroom interaction (Walsh, 2002). My selection of these extracts for analysis was motivated by its importance in revealing a range of issues in relation to L2 classroom interaction. Such a selection is in agreement with Mori’s (2004: 539) perspective that while CA has ‘unmotivated looking as a guiding principle […] the selection of a particular case for CA-based analysis may be motivated by the significance of the case in a given field’.


In the first excerpt below, it demonstrates the teacher’s use of acknowledgment, confirmation check to invite student 4 (S4) to expand her response, and evaluate her utterance through the use of positive feedback and explicit feedback. Prior to the extract, the interaction begins with the teacher asking students to justify the similarities among the words: ‘export’, ‘import’ and ‘increase’.

Excerpt 1

01  T1:  okay (0.2) why is it different?((hand movement))#1

Figure 1

02         (1.1)

03  S1:  °because it’s not°

04         (0.4)

05  S?   °(na li cuo↓)°

((tr. where is the mistake))

06  S2:  °you know° ((inaudible))

07  T1:  no i- it’s not a noun it’s a verb ((pointed at the word advise on the screen))

08  S2:  =yeah

09  S3:  =yeah

10  S2:  um:

11         (0.6)

12  T1:  advise is a [verb]

13  S4:                                 [advise]

14  S2:  .hh hh

15  Ss:  ((some Ss were whispering))

16  T1:  wh- what’s what’s these (.)

17          >how are these< similar

((pointed at the words on the screen while he is speaking))

18          (4.1)

19  T1:  these words here what are these words here

((pointing at the words on the screen))


20  S4:  °the (0.2) pronunciation was different°

21  T1:  ((pointed at S4)) #2 say some more ((hand movement)) #3

22         (0.2) lovely


Figure 2                                                                       Figure 3

23  S4: °ah: we know ah it’s° ((inaudible))

24       °(it is in the first and advise is the second)° ((hand movement while explaining)) #4

Figure 4

25         (1.0) ((T1 pointed at S4)) #5

Figure 5

26  T1:  l think you are getting close ((making eye contact with student 4))

27         that’s excellent

28         (0.5)

29  T1:  okay

30         (0.7) ((T1 pointed at the words on the screen))

31  T1:  simple answer these words here

32         (0.7)

33  T1:  can be verbs↑

((hand movement towards the right)) #6

Figure 6

34         (1.4)

35  T1:  or↑

36         (0.4)

37  T1:

((hand movement towards the left)) #7

Figure 7

38         (4.5) ((T1 nodded))

39  T1:  .hh (1.0) if it is a verb

40         (0.4)

((pointed at the words on the screen))

41  T1:  it has a >different pronunciation< ((left hand movement))

Confirmation check, acknowledgement and gestures as a means of fostering students’ uptake

The teacher produces the first turn as a question at line 1 by asking the reason why the words are different from each other. This first-pair part (FPP) is considered as an ‘initiation’ of the IRF. The teacher’s question is followed by several sotto voce responses from students (lines 3-6). However, the teacher notices that one of the students in the class suggests the word ‘advise’ is a noun, and he rejects his/her response by saying ‘no’ to him/her in line 7 since the student is unable to provide the correct answer. He then provides the hint afterwards to the whole class in line 7 by explicitly pointing at the word ‘advise’ on the screen and explaining to students that ‘advise’ is a verb. This explicit feedback prompts student 2 (S2) and 3 (S3) to produce their turns ‘yeah’ simultaneously in lines 8-9. It reveals that both S2 and S3 acknowledge the teacher’s explanation, and recognise that their responses are dispreferred and incorrect. Furthermore, S3’s production of a hesitation marker ‘um:’ in line 10 and an emergence of a 0.6-second gap after line 10 indicate S3’s unfamiliarity and uncertainty of the right answer. Although students are responding to the teacher’s feedback in lines 8-10, their responses are viewed as unsuccessful uptake since they simply acknowledge the feedback without any attempt to repair their responses. The teacher then initiates the next turn and he provides the same hint or explicit feedback to his students by stressing on the word ‘verb’ in line 12 to explicitly reinforce that the word ‘advise’ is a verb rather than a noun in order to encourage them to reconsider their responses. Nevertheless, this does not generate any successful uptake from students, as indicated in lines 13-15 that students are whispering which are not responding the teacher’s feedback meaningfully. Hence, it can be observed that even though the teacher provides explicit feedback for students through such prolonged I-R-F-R-F sequence from lines 1-15, which attempts to encourage them to come up with a better quality answers, students are incapable of repairing their response. One explanation for this maybe that the explicit feedback offered by the teacher is not sufficient enough to elicit clear responses from students and encourage meaningful conversation in the classroom (Walsh and Li, 2013).

The teacher rephrases his question at lines 16-17 and this can be seen as an ‘initiation’ of the second IRF sequence, which aims to re-elicit further responses from students to assist them to reach the correct answer. As the teacher asks the students for the similarities between the words, he also points at the words on the screen to indicate to the students that these are the words that they should consider. The teacher makes the pause (line 18) for the students to respond and this is a place where students can possibly produce a second-pair part (SPP) turn. However, this does not draw answers from the class immediately and instead it introduces a 4.1-second gap. The teacher rephrases his question in line 19, and by doing so, he attempts to emphasise his message, and requires students to pay full attention specifically to these three words. This yields a response from student 4 in line 20, which is seen as a ‘response’ of the IRF. The teacher’s action in line 19 can be considered as a ‘self-initiated repair’ (Schegloff, 2007) and the repair of his question successfully leads to the progression of the lesson (Schegloff, 2007). After S4 replies to the teacher quietly, the teacher points at her and makes a circular motion with his hands to encourage her to ‘say some more’ (line 21). Such feedback is classified as a ‘confirmation check’ (Ellis, 1999) since the teacher tries to expand the prior SPP turn rather than closing the ongoing IRF sequence with direct feedback. He does this by inviting S4 to elaborate on her response in order to check his understanding of S4’s message by keeping the discussion going without explicitly providing any verbal feedback. Furthermore, his hand gestures in line 21 are classified as iconic gestures, since the circular motion with his hand is a visual representation of a bodily action (McNeill, 1992), which indicates a need for S4 to elaborate her response. The teacher produces a minimal turn-construction unit (TCU) ‘lovely’ in line 22 after the 0.2-second pause to S4’s response. Such a response will be considered as positive feedback. By acknowledging S4’s response (line 20), the teacher recognises her utterance and invites S4 to elaborate on her response. Thus, the use of hand gestures, teacher’s acknowledgement and confirmation check can foster student’s uptake and this is demonstrated in lines 23-24 when S4 provides an additional answer on the different pronunciations of the words.

As can be seen from lines 23-24, S4 provides a longer response for the different pronunciations of the words, which is an expansion part of the previous SPP turn in line 21. The response in lines 23-24 is ambiguous since part of S4’s utterance is inaudible. The teacher then points at S4, and he evaluates S4’s response (lines 23-24) with the use of both positive and explicit feedback by saying: ‘I think you are getting close that’s excellent’ (lines 26-27). Here, the teacher provides explicit feedback, and clearly indicates to S4 that her response is not a hundred percent correct. While S4’s response can be classified as ‘needs-repair’, it is possible to conclude that S4’s response is a ‘successful uptake’ rather than an ‘unsuccessful uptake’. This is because S4 ‘makes an attempt to repair’ and ‘respond[s] positively to the teacher’s feedback’ (Ellis, 2009: 11) in order to elaborate on her previous short response (line 20), and her utterance can be viewed as a preferred response from the teacher’s perspective. As Hellermann (2009: 100) argues, when a speaker produces a next turn in a sequence which is not affiliated with the previous turn, it is indicated in certain aspects of the design of the turn to project a dispreferred response: ‘the semantic content of the lack of affiliation may be preceded by pause, non-lexical or lexical markers of hesitation’. It is important to note that the teacher does not include any of these features in his utterance (lines 26-27). The teacher’s use of the positive feedback, stressing on the first syllable of the word ‘excellent’, making eye contact with S4, and his hand gesture of pointing at S4 (figure 5) during the one-second pause in line 25 can be interpreted as an appreciation of S4’s response in the teacher’s perspective (Guvendir, 2011). The teacher eventually closes the ongoing sequence at lines 26-27 with producing feedback to S4. Therefore, the teacher’s use of both positive feedback and explicit feedback allows him to indicate to S4 that her response is a preferred one.

Systematic turn-taking patterns as a means of creating learning opportunities for students

Alternatively, there is a systematic turn-taking pattern which can be observed from lines 16-27: teacher’s initiation (lines 16-19)-student’s response (line 20)-teacher’s feedback (lines 21-22)-student’s response (lines 23-24)-teacher’s feedback (lines 25-27). It is noticeable that the teacher and students are engaging in more a complex I-R-F-R-F sequence rather than a simple IRF sequence organisation. This indicates that the teacher constructs learning opportunity by providing different feedback to guide S4 to construct her knowledge and reach towards a greater precision in her response through an extended turn-taking sequence.

In line 29, the teacher’s use of ‘okay’ and his hand movement by pointing at the words on the screen during the 0.7-second pause in line 30 signify the teacher’s preparation for the next turn in order to allow him to explain the correct answer to students. In lines 31, the teacher provides a direct answer relevant to the very first FPP turn, ‘why is it different’, in line 1. In terms of feedback categorisation, the teacher’s explanation is considered as ‘explicit feedback’ since the teacher draws students’ attention to the correct forms by directly providing linguistic input or explanation to the class and explains what the students are expected to describe before moving onto the topic on pronunciation in lines 45-68 (Lyster and Ranta, 1997). The explicit feedback is provided through the use of deictic gestures (lines 33 and 37), employed alongside the rising intonations of the words: ‘verbs↑’, ‘or↑’ and ‘nouns↑’. The teacher moves his hands towards the right (line 33) when explaining that the words can be verbs and towards the left (line 37) when explaining that the words can also be nouns. The use of deictic gesture, together with the use of rising intonations of particular words, allows the teacher to highlight the ambiguous nature of certain vocabularies that are both nouns and verbs to students visually. It is important to note that this turn initiated by the teacher connects the current turn back into the prior turn, indicating a global-level linkage of talk (Local, 2004). This further suggests that a previous I-R-F-R-F sequence (lines 16-27) is a subsidiary sequence (Jefferson, 1972) since it is subsidiary to the former sequence (lines 1-15) and the forthcoming sequence (lines 31-38). The purpose of this subsidiary sequence allows the teacher to facilitate students to provide a relevant and closer answer, rather than directly providing the correct answer to students which may result in obstructing learning opportunities and minimising learner involvement.

Repeating teacher’s intonations as a sign of successful uptake

Excerpt 2 demonstrates a different sequence structure in comparison to excerpt 1. It reveals that students’ modelling of teacher’s correct intonations of the words is a sign of successful uptake and understanding of the different intonations in nouns and verbs.

Excerpt 2

45  T1:  so when it’s a noun

46         (1.1)

47  T1:  the stress is >at the beginning<

48         (0.5)

49  T1:  <ex↑po↓rt>  ((right hand movement and left hand pointed at the word export on the screen))

50         (0.5)

51  S5:  °ex↑po↓rt°

52          (0.6)

53  T1:

((pointed at the word import on the screen))

54        (1.2)

55  T1:  (0.4)

56  S5:  °in↑cr↓ease°

57         (0.2)

58  T1:  <in↑cr↓ease>

((right hand movement and left hand pointed at the word increase on the screen))

59         (0.3)

60  T1:  that is a noun ((forefinger up))

61         (1.6)

62  T1:  when’s a verb (.) we say <ex↓po↑rt> (.)

((right hand movement and left hand pointed at the word export on the screen))

63  S3:  °ex↓po↑rt°

64         (1.2)

65  T1:  <im↓po↑rt>

((right hand movement and left hand pointed at the word import on the screen))

66         (0.5)
67  S1:  °in↓cr↑ease°

68  T1:  =<in↓cr↑ease>

((right hand movement and left hand pointed at the word increase on the screen)) #8 #9

Figure 8

Figure 9

As can be seen in excerpt 1, explicit feedback made relevant to the SPP (lines 21 and 23-24) is already given prior to excerpt 2 (lines 31-38). The excerpt begins with the teacher continues to explicitly explain and demonstrate the correct intonations of the words to students in order to allow them to identify the differences between noun and verb syllable stresses (lines 45-49). In line 49, the teacher performs an iconic gesture (McNeill, 1992) by moving his right hand upwards to demonstrate the rising intonation at the first syllable ‘ex↑’ and moving his hand downwards to indicate the falling intonation at the second syllable ‘po↓rt’. Simultaneously the teacher points at the particular word on the screen with his left hand and this can be seen as a deictic gesture (McNeill, 1992), indicating the word that he will enunciate to students. Notice that after the teacher produces the correct intonation slowly in lines 49, with the use of hand gestures, it motivates student 5 (S5) to quietly repeat the word voluntarily with the correct intonation. This can be seen as a successful uptake. However, the teacher is preoccupied with providing more explicit feedback to the whole class (line 53), and he does not leave a pause either to let S5 reconsider her utterance or acknowledge her response. S5’s utterance may be seen as an ‘uninvited contribution to the discourse’ (Waring, 2009) where she initiates a new turn by repeating the teacher’s modelling. Nevertheless, when the teacher signals to continue to move on to another word by saying ‘or’ slowly (line 55), S5 quietly initiates a new turn again, and offers the correct intonation of ‘in↑cr↓ease’ (line 56) before the teacher produces the correct intonation (line 58). This clearly reflects S5’s understanding of the noun syllable stress by offering the correct intonation (line 56) before the teacher does. The teacher again directly provides the correct form without offering any verbal evaluation or acknowledgment of S5’s response and it may be that the teacher cannot hear S5’s sotto voce response. However, it is possible for S5 to employ the teacher’s explicit feedback in line 58 as the correct ‘answer’ in order to self-assess her own utterance produced in line 56.

After a 1.6-second pause in line 61, the teacher moves the conversation forward and provides correct intonation of the verb syllable stress with the use of both iconic and deictic gestures (line 62). This time it is S3 who quietly repeats the correct intonation after the teacher’s feedback (line 63). After the teacher demonstrates the correct intonation of ‘im↓po↑rt‘ slowly with hand gestures (line 65), S1 initiates a new turn and produces the right intonation of ‘in↓cr↑ease’ (line 67) before the teacher demonstrates (line 68).

One thing to note is that there is a systematic turn-taking pattern that emerges from the two sequences in excerpt 2 which demonstrates the effectiveness of employing explicit feedback together with the use of hand gestures. This turn-taking pattern illustrates Waring’s (2009) notion of ‘moving out of IRF’ in L2 classroom since the IRF sequence is not the only possible way to lead to students’ uptake. The turn-taking pattern can be identified in both sequences, lines 49-58 and 62-68: teacher’s feedback (lines 49 and 62)—student’s repetitions of the feedback (lines 51 and 63)—teacher’s feedback for another word (lines 53 and 65)—student’s self-initiated turns (lines 56 and 67)—teacher’s feedback for another word (lines 58 and 68). In particular, the fourth slot of this turn-taking pattern (lines 56 and 67) is a clear indication of students’ successful uptake of noun and verb syllable stress since students have previously received sufficient verbal and non-verbal input from the teacher during the first and third slots. This motivates students to initiate a new turn in order to provide learning opportunities for themselves to produce the intonations of the words accurately and gain a more in-depth understanding of the phonological structure of noun and verb syllable stress.


This paper has analysed the different types of feedback that are employed by the teacher in an extended sequence of an interaction, and students’ uptake is observed in order to examine how students react to teacher’s feedback. Excerpt 1 clearly indicates that merely providing the same explicit feedback to students is not effective in eliciting clear responses from students. Through such complex I-R-F-R-F turn-taking sequence (lines 1-15), it was found that although the teacher offers explicit feedback for students through pointing at the words on the screen (line 7) and using stress on a particular word (line 12), the teacher fails to prompt students to repair their own response. Nevertheless, excerpt 1 also reveals that the use of hand gestures, teacher’s acknowledgement and confirmation check aims to invite student 4 to elaborate on her previous response. This supports Hall and Walsh (2002), Tsui (2004) and Warings’ (2009) arguments regarding the importance of making good use of the teacher’s third feedback position in IRF sequence by inviting students to explain their responses. This eventually leads to a longer and more complex response from student 4 and then initiates a dialogic interaction between the teacher and the student.

Explicit and positive feedback, in conjunction with the use of eye contact and hand gestures, in excerpt 1 are also employed to acknowledge and evaluate student 4’s uptake as a preferred one even though she does not provide the most accurate response to the teacher (lines 26-27). This finding contradicts with Waring’s (2008) argument that when the teacher provides negative feedback, it means that the student’s response is dispreferred. Extract 1 illustrates that employing explicit feedback to address a student’s contribution can be perceived as a preferred response in certain circumstances, especially when it is employed alongside different types of feedback and interactional resources. The teacher’s provision of explicit feedback in this occasion is not designed to lead to student’s uptake as the pedagogical goal here is to evaluate S4’s response and move on to the next activity, pronunciation (lines 31-38), rather than facilitating students to provide a relevant and closer answer. It is important to consider the use of positive feedback, verbal and non-verbal cues with the explicit feedback in this scenario in order to fully understand the teacher’s motivation of constructing such feedback for S4.

Excerpt 2 demonstrates that the teacher’s explicit feedback accompanied with the use of iconic and deictic gestures, which motivates students to initiate a new turn, imitate the teacher’s correct pronunciation with the appropriate intonation, and predict the target forms. This is exemplified through students’ voluntary repetitions of the correct intonations, and self-initiations of new turns to predict the forthcoming intonation, before the teacher provides the correct ‘answer’. This example aligns with Allen’s (2000), Kelly et al. (2007) and Guvendir’s (2011) findings that CF provided by the teacher is not solely composed of verbal cues, but also various hand movements which leads to students’ uptake. If these hand movements are not taken into account in excerpt 2, then the students’ repetitions of the correct intonations will be considered as only having been influenced by the teacher’s verbal input. Using both iconic and deictic hand gestures to indicate the intonations of the words to students can allow them to learn what the teacher’s actions represent, help them to notice and comprehend explicit feedback, and produce their output accordingly. Moreover, it can assist students to memorise the correct intonations of the words. This coheres with Mackey’s (2006) argument that teacher’s feedback can promote language learning since it allows students to notice and learn the TL.


This paper provides further evidence for the complexities of providing explicit feedback in teacher’s talk (Ellis, 2009; Waring, 2009; Tsui, 2004). Instead of gathering quantitative data on the numerous use of teacher’s feedback and the occurrence of students’ uptake as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the types of feedback (Lyster and Ranta, 1997; Tsui, 2004; Ellis, 2009), this study provides an analysis of a real classroom interaction and demonstrates how the teacher employs different methods of communication (i.e. verbal, non-verbal, and written communications) to give feedback to students, resulting in students’ uptake. While the various sequential environments in the excerpts allow us to observe where and when these teacher’s feedback and students’ uptake occur, this study has also shown that it is the interactional resources used alongside the teacher’s feedback which demonstrates to us how feedback is being constructed by the teacher and how students react to it. Seedhouse (2004: 243) also argues that it is important to conduct a case-by-case emic analysis before analysing the quantitative data since conversation analysts ‘have access to the same interactional evidence of a learner’s learning states as the teacher has’. This type of evidence of learning can be employed to complement the evidence of learning gathered by the SLA quantitative studies of teachers’ feedback. As such, this study reinforces the importance of going beyond using quantitative research methods to investigate teacher’s feedback and students’ uptake, and to observe how interactional cues influence students’ noticing and uptake.

In terms of pedagogical implications to L2 classroom, the implementation of both implicit and explicit feedback in the classroom are shown to be useful to raise the students’ awareness of the mismatch between their interlanguage and the correct form. Moreover, teacher’s hand gestures are a significant aspect of teacher’s pedagogical repertoire and it is suggested that employing both verbal and non-verbal communication skills can lead to effective teacher’s feedback and ultimately successful students’ uptake. In this study, it has been illustrated that the use of both verbal explicit feedback and hand gestures allow students to notice the correct pronunciation. Schmidt (1990) claims that learners noticing the TL is a necessary step towards language acquisition. Thus, teachers should attempt to employ different types of feedback and hand gestures in order to help students to notice the target form so that acquisition will occur.


Allen, L. 2000. ‘Nonverbal Accommodations in Foreign Language Teacher Talk’. Applied Language Learning 11: 155–176.

Ellis, R. 1999. Learning a second language through interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Ellis, R. 2009. ‘Corrective feedback and teacher development’. L2 Journal 1: 3-18.

Gass, S., & L, Selinker. 2008. Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. New York: Routledge.

Guvendir, E. 2011. ‘The role of non-verbal behavior of teachers in providing students corrective feedback and their consequences’. Sino-US English Teaching 8: 577-591.

Hall, J. and M. Walsh. 2002. ‘Teacher–student interaction and language learning’. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 22: 186–203.

Hellermann, J. 2009. ‘Practices for dispreferred responses using no by a learner of English’. International Review of Applied Linguistics 47: 95-126.

Jefferson, G. 2004. ‘A sketch of some orderly aspects of overlap in natural conversation’. In G. Lerner (ed.), Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 43-59.

Kelly, S. D., S. Ward, P. Creigh, and J. Bartolotti. 2007. ‘An intentional stance modulates the integration of gesture and speech during comprehension’. Brain and Language 101: 222–33.

Lyster, R. and L. Ranta. 1997. ‘Corrective feedback and learner uptake: Negotiation of form in communicative classrooms’. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 20: 37-66.

Lyster, R. 1998, ‘Recasts, repetition, and ambiguity in L2 classroom discourse’. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 20: 51-81.

Lightbown, P.M. 2000. ‘Anniversary article: Classroom SLA research and second language teaching’. Applied Linguistics 21: 431-462.

Loewen, S. 2004. ‘Uptake in incidental focus on form in meaning-focused ESL lessons’. Language Learning 54: 153-188.

Long, M. 2006. Problems in SLA. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lee, Y.A. 2007. ‘Third turn position in teacher talk: Contingency and the work of teaching’. Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1204-1230.

Mehrabian, A., & R. Farris. 1967. ‘Inference of attitudes from non-verbal communication in two channels’. Journal of Consulting Psychology 31: 248-252.

McNeill, D. 1992. Hand and Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mackey, A., and J. Philip. 1998. ‘Conversational interaction and second language development: Recasts, responses, and red herrings?’. Modern Language Journal 82: 338-356.

Mackey, A., S. Glass, and K. McDonough. 2000. ‘How do learners perceive international feedback?’. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 22: 471-497.

Mackey, A. 2006. ‘Feedback, noticing, and second language development: An empirical study of L2 classroom interaction’. Applied Linguistics 27: 405-430.

McCarthy, M. J. 2003. ‘Talking back: ‘small’ interactional response tokens in everyday conversation’. Research on Language in Social Interaction 36: 33–63.

Mori, J. 2004. ‘Negotiating sequential boundaries and learning opportunities: A case from a Japanese language classroom’. Modern Language Journal 88: 536–550.

Sinclair, J. & M. Coulthard. 1975. Towards an analysis of discourse: The English used by teachers and pupils. London: Oxford University Press.

Schmidt, R. 1990. ‘The role of consciousness in second language learning’. Applied Linguistics 11: 129-158.

Seedhouse, P. 2004. The Interactional Architecture of the Language Classroom: A Conversation Analysis Perspective. London: Blackwell.

Schegloff, E.A. 1987. ‘Analyzing single episodes of conversation: An exercise in conversation analysis’. Social Psychology Quarterly 50: 101–114.

Schegloff, E.A. 2007. Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tunstall, P. and C. Gipps. 1996. ‘Teacher feedback to young children in formative assessment: A typology’. British Educational Research Journal 22: 389-404.

Vygotsky, L. 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Waring, H.Z. 2008. ‘Using explicit positive assessment in the language classroom: IRF, feedback, and learning opportunities’. The Modern Language Journal 92: 577-594.

Waring, H.Z. 2009. ‘Moving out of IRF: A single case analysis’. Language Learning 59: 796-824.

Walsh, S. and L, Li. 2013. ‘Conversations as Space for Learning’. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 23: 247-266.