Graduate School
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Dr Erick Shartiely

Home country: Tanzania

Year of enrolment: 2010

Graduation date: March 2013

Department:  General Linguistics

Supervisor: Prof Christine Anthonissen

Dissertation title: Discourse strategies of lecturers in higher education classroom interaction: a case at the University Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Abstract: This study investigates how linguistic super diversity is managed in a higher education context in Tanzania. Specifically, the use of language in lectures to large classes made up of students with linguistically diverse backgrounds at the University of Dar es Salaam is in focus. Considering the multilingualism of the students as well as the lecturers, and a language-in-education policy, which prescribes English as the language of teaching and learning, the study is interested in the perceptions and practices of those teaching big numbers of students in large lecture halls. The data comprised eight recorded lectures and interviews with the respective lecturers. The intention was to identify, describe, document and analyse interactional strategies that lecturers use, particularly the discourse strategies that lecturers use in conveying new information at a relatively sophisticated level of academic rhetoric, and to facilitate interaction between them and students. With large numbers of students in the audience, and given that they are first year students new to the university-spoken register, lecturers are likely to make remarkable language choices consciously or unconsciously. Conversational Analysis (CA) and Discourse Analysis (DA) approaches facilitated the identification and analysis of conversational and discursive features of lectures as part of spoken registers that are generically used in university teaching. The analysis particularly considered the linguistic diversity of the participants in the higher education context in Tanzania and how lecturers use language to cater for such diversity. The sample involved eight lecturers, four from each of two departments regarded among those with the highest student numbers in the College of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Dar es Salaam, namely the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. The findings indicate that lecturers use a selected number of both propositional and structural discourse strategies during lecture sessions. The three most notable propositional discourse strategies are repetition, use of questions, and use of code switching between English and Kiswahili. Lecturers use phrasal and clausal types of repetition to achieve cohesion, topic continuity and emphasis. They use tag, rhetorical, open and closed types of questions to check for comprehension, to stimulate higher level thinking, to manage classroom behaviour as well as to encourage students' participation and independent study. They also use inter and intra sentential types of code switching to engage with students, to translate some concepts, explain, and manage students' behaviour and to advise or encourage students. Regarding structural discourse strategies, the study shows that lecturers notably use discourse markers so and now as cohesive devices, marking such textual functions as framing, linking and showing consequential relationships. They use the discourse markers so and now to achieve similar communicative goals as those achieved using propositional discourse strategies. In referring to themselves or their audience, they use specific pronouns you, we, and I, to perform different functions. They use the pronoun you not only as an interactive device, but also as an explanatory device of significance in classroom interaction. They use the pronoun we not only as a solidarity device, but like you, also as a strong explanatory device. They also use the pronoun I to mark speaker's knowledge and his or her stance about it, and speaker's circumstance and experience. This study not only describes generic features and language practices in big lectures; it also engages critically with some of the established practices and in so doing adds to the literature on individual and societal multilingualism and how lecturers manage it in an African higher education context.

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