Course Overview

Have you ever wondered why some classroom discussions are lively and engaging and others more like painful interrogations? Why some students always have an answer ready, but others never participate? Why everybody (or nobody) laughs at a teacher’s jokes? What role multiple languages should play in classroom talk?

This course gives classroom teachers at all levels and subject areas the analytic tools to answer these and more questions about classroom communication.

Each lesson introduces fundamental concepts and techniques of classroom discourse analysis, developing an analytic toolkit and promoting critical reflection on pedagogical practices over five weeks.

What You’ll Learn

You’ll explore student engagement strategies including how to identify and analyze:

  • turn-taking patterns and their function
  • question types and their effects on classroom talk
  • the role of intonation, gesture and other subtle cues on interaction
  • types and functions of classroom storytelling
  • types of class participation and their effects


3rd or 4th Year Undergraduate Students or Graduate Students who are student teaching, tutoring, or practicing teachers.

Meet Your Instructors

Betsy R. Rymes-Pearson Advance

Betsy R. Rymes

Professor of Educational Linguistics at University of Pennsylvania Betsy is Professor of Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She received her Masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) from UCLA in 1994 and her PhD in Applied Linguistics from UCLA in 1997.