LINGUIST List 28.2764

Tue Jun 20 2017

Review: Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics: Murakami, Skidmore (2016)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <>

Date: 06-Feb-2017
From: Jose Aguilar <>
Subject: Dialogic Pedagogy
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Book announced at

EDITOR: David Skidmore
EDITOR: Kyoko Murakami
TITLE: Dialogic Pedagogy
SUBTITLE: The Importance of Dialogue in Teaching and Learning
SERIES TITLE: New Perspectives on Language and Education
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
YEAR: 2016

REVIEWER: Jose Aguilar, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III


David Skidmore & Kyoko Murakamis’ ''Dialogic Pedagogy'' is a 253 pages long edited volume that “provides a wide-ranging and in-depth theoretical perspective on dialogue in teaching” (Skidmore & Murakami, 2016: back cover). The volume counts thirteen articles, one of which was previously published, as well as academic and personal information about each of the seven contributors. David Skidmore and Kyoko Murakami appear as the chief contributors with 9 and 4 (co-)signed chapters respectively. There is no unified references section at the end; each article contains its own. The volume presents a synthetic, useful index.

Chapter 1, by David Skidmore, is entitled “Dialogic Pedagogy: An introduction”. It sets two basic notions that run throughout the volume – namely “dialogism” and “prosody” – and situates the authors’ dialogic approach within Freire’s theory of dialogic pedagogy. Insofar as an introduction, Chapter 1 presents an outline of the volume.

Chapter 2, authored by David Skidmore, is entitled “Dialogism and Education”. It discusses Bakhtin’s dialogism as it stems from Yakubinsky and Voloshinov. Central to this chapter are the notions of creativity, speech and consciousness (which lead the author to compare Bakhtin and Vygotsky’s standpoints), heteroglossia and polyphony. This discussion allows Skidmore to justify the appropriateness of dialogism as far as education is concerned.

Harry Daniels signs Chapter 3, which is entitled “Vygotsky and Dialogic Pedagogy”. The comparison between Bakhtin and Vygotsky is once again brought to the fore. The focus here is on the practice of teaching, and more precisely on the extent to which one teacher’s acted decisions may, or may not, allow for learning opportunities that originate from instances of shared co-construction rather than unilateral transmission.

Chapter 4, by Michelle Brinn, is “The Conceptions of ‘Dialogue’ Offered by Bohm and Buber: A Critical Review”. It closes a series of theoretical, rather than empirical, chapters. Brinn explores the aforementioned authors’ work on dialogue, namely its relevance to educational practice and theory.

Chapter 5, by David Skidmore, is entitled “Classroom Discourse: A Survey of Research”. It presents the type of interaction that may be found in classrooms all over the world as a discourse genre. In order to do that, the author draws on and comments on scholars such as Barnes, Cazden, Mehan and Sinclair and Coulthard. The “IR(E/F)” sequence is discussed alongside Bakhtinian dialogic principles.

The title of chapter 6 is “Pedagogy and Dialogue”, by David Skidmore. Similar to the previous chapter, the author presents a state of the art of sorts on the pair dialogue and teaching. Skidmore draws on Nystrand, Wells and Alexander, who appears as a major reference throughout the volume. Following this discussion, the author draws the affective conditions for learning, as well as their link with teaching practice that adheres to a dialogical pedagogy.

Chapter 7, by Julie Margaret Esiyok, is entitled “The Small Group Writing Conference as a Dialogic Model of Feedback”. It is the first empirical chapter presenting research questions, fieldwork and data analyses. A model of written feedback, gradually co-constructed by the teacher and each of the learners - “dialogic writing conference” - is presented and discussed. The author concludes that the teacher’s willingness to remain silent may allow for students to engage “themselves more in exploratory talk and jointly [develop] the solutions to the revision of the writing” (Esiyok, 2016: 128). The chapter contains transcripts of the classroom discourse data, as well as an appendix presenting indicators of active and dialogic teaching.

The title of Chapter 8, by Jean Baptiste Kremer, is “Giving Learners a Voice: A Study of the Dialogic ‘Quality’ of Three Episodes of Teacher-Learner Talk-in-interaction in a Language Classroom”. It is the second empirical chapter of the volume;; it presents research questions, details of research methodology as well as data analyses. In this chapter, basic tenets of dialogic theory and methodological practices originating from conversation analysis (CA henceforth) are brought together in order to illustrate the analysis of the construct “lesson tone”. In his conclusion, the author points at the difficulty for the teacher to promote a “multi-voice classroom” (Kremer, 2016: 150), which calls for specific measures with respect to teacher education. This chapter contains several classroom interaction transcripts in the fashion of CA.

David Skidmore signs Chapter 9, which is entitled “Authoritative Versus Internally Persuasive Discourse”. It is a partly empirical chapter, which draws on previously produced data in order to discuss the types of verbal interaction which may foster the learners’ development of autonomous, specific literacy practices. Ultimately, the author’s reading of the two presented classroom transcripts allows him to suggest a transformation from “pedagogical dialogue” - taken here as rather artificial and constraining – towards “dialogic pedagogy” - presented as appropriate and desirable as far as learning opportunities go.

Chapter 10, by David Skidmore, is entitled “Once More With Feeling: Utterance and Social Structure”. It is a theoretical chapter illustrated by one transcript. This chapter seems to set the theoretical foundation required in order to develop more empirical readings of intonation as a construct, in subsequent chapters of the volume. This is the only non original article of the volume.

Chapter 11, co-signed by the volume editors, David Skidmore and Kyoko Murakami, is “How Prosody Marks Shifts in Footing in Classroom Discourse”. It is an empirical chapter that contains research questions, fieldwork, classroom-transcript analyses and a data discussion. The focus is on how participants in a classroom situation used prosody to negotiate the distribution of turns. Ultimately, the authors suggest that their analyses may broaden the understanding of learners’ experience and involvement in classroom interaction, which is taken here as a necessary condition for learning to occur.

The title of Chapter 3 is “Prosodic Chopping: A Pedagogic Tool to Signal Shifts in Academic Task Structure”. It is authored by Xin Zhao, David Skidmore and Kyoko Murakami and is the final one in a series of four chapters discussing aspects prosody and classroom discourse. This also is an empirical chapter presenting visual data that allow the researcher to relate prosody and gesture. Ultimately, the authors suggest the pedagogical function of prosody, which is taken as a tool that the participants in the classroom interaction may use in order to structure their context and participation.

The final chapter of the volume, Chapter 13, by David Skidmore and Kyoko Murakami, is entitled “Claiming Our Own Space: Polyphony in Teacher-Student Dialogue”. It is a partly empirical chapter, which presents transcripts and other classroom-originated data in order to illustrate aspects of dialogical classroom discourse. The focus here is on the adequateness of polyphonic, dialogic, interactive spaces in the classroom as potentially conducive to more sustainable, learning situations. Ultimately, in this chapter, the authors insist on the validity of CA methods in order to fathom aspects of the teaching practice.


Skidmore and Muramaki’s edited volume is an interesting work on the necessity for teachers to move towards more dialogical pedagogies, which allow for a redistribution of the shared responsibilities within institutional learning situations. This stance is defended by implicitly adhering to the following hypothesis: learning in general will be more likely if the teaching conditions allow for diversity and polyphony. As far as language learning and teaching are concerned, no major SLA references seem to support the editors’ position. Notwithstanding this, this reviewer found Skidmore and Murakami’s standpoint both appealing and convincing. Although there is no clear subdivision within the volume, this reviewer did feel a certain progression. Chapters 1 through 6 read as rather theoretical. They present a very thorough and solid epistemological evolution of dialogical pedagogy. Some passages proved difficult to get through for this reviewer. Chapters 7 through 13 came through as more empirical and data-driven, and yet coherent and adequately connected with aspects that were developed in the previous ones. This reviewer found particularly appealing the authors’ recurring characterisation of prosody as a pedagogical tool (chapters 9 through 13), as well as their application of dialogical principles to the writing conference (chapter 7). This reviewer was left wanting more hard evidence on the causality between forms of dialogical pedagogy and actual learning. In effect, the authors repeatedly advise thatmore research be conducted in order to fathom this hypothetical link. As for “classroom discourse”, this reviewer felt at times the construct to be too a constraining one, since it left out other instances of institutional learning that may not take place within an actual “classroom” (Narcy-Combes, 2005). This reviewer felt more comfortable with a more inclusive construct like “didactic interaction” (Cicurel, 2011) to refer to what may go on among a teacher and learners, and among learners. This work certainly reads as a coherent volume, almost repetitive at times. The fact that either, or both, of| the editors have co-signed most of the chapters gave this reviewer a certain impression of deja vu. All in all, the theories reviewed, the data analysed and the practices presented, will certainly appeal to| scholars, curriculum developers, language teaching practitioners, teachers’ educators and pre-service language teachers.


Cicurel, F. (2011). Les interactions dans l’enseignement des langues : Agir professoral et pratiques de classe. Paris: Didier.

Esiyok, J. (2016). The Small Group Writing Conference as a Dialogic Model of Feedback. In D. Skidmore & K. Murakami (Eds.), Dialogic Pedagogy: The Importance of Dialogue in Teaching and Learning (pp. 111–134). Buffalo; Bristol: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Kremer, J. B. (2016). Giving Learners a Voice: A Study of the Dialogic ‘Quality’ of Three Episodes of Teacher-Learner Talk-in-interaction in a Language Classroom. In D. Skidmore & K. Murakami (Eds.), Dialogic Pedagogy: The Importance of Dialogue in Teaching and Learning (pp. 135–152). Buffalo; Bristol: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Narcy-Combes, J.-P. (2005). Didactique des langues et TIC : vers une recherche-action responsable. Paris: Ophrys.

Skidmore, D., & Murakami, K. (Eds.). (2016). Dialogic pedagogy: the importance of dialogue in teaching and learning. Bristol; Buffalo: Multilingual Matters.


Jose Ignacio Aguilar Río ( is a Senior Lecturer at Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3 University in France. He teaches undergraduate and post-graduate courses in education and applied linguistics. His research interests are in classroom interaction, foreign language teacher education and research methodology. He has presented papers at international conferences in Europe. His works have been published in international reviews.

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