Speech is silver, silence is gold: What really happens during individual language counselling sessions


This publication doesn't include Faculty of Education. It includes Language Centre. Official publication website can be found on muni.cz.


Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Language Centre

Description As a member of the English Autonomously project at Masaryk University, the author has been providing individual counselling sessions to her students and trying to gain an understanding of how those sessions contribute to language learning. The three counselling sessions involved in the English Autonomously course each has a different main goal. The first one focuses on planning, the second on monitoring and the last one on evaluating the learning process. Ideally, the sessions should be driven by the students/ counselees and their individual needs. The aim of this presentation is to investigate the interaction between the counsellor and her counselees and to observe different types of practices used during the sessions. This pilot case study is based on an analysis of the sessions´ recordings and attempts to identify patterns in communicating and turn­taking. It will be discussed whether and how the identified patterns correspond to the counsellor´s and counselee’s roles. Special attention will be paid to pausing and dealing with silence. The presentation will demonstrate what practices result in students becoming (more) active in the counselling dialogue and to what degree they are capable of overtaking control over their learning. The three sessions will be both compared and contrasted as there are various levels of a given structure in each of them. During the first and last session, the counsellor relies on a set of course materials to plan or evaluate students´ activities. In the second session, there are more opportunities for the counselees to navigate the communication themselves and thus, to concentrate on issues of their choice. The sessions ‘analysis is going to explore if counselees use this opportunity and if they are willing not only to discuss the generally established agenda, Martina Šindelářová Skupeňová Masaryk University Language Centre, Brno, CZ 98 Day 2: Friday, 11th September but also to address issues that are personally important for them. The presentation aims at analysing which types of interaction can be considered to be most useful for students´ progress in learning and observing if these practices are present enough in the counselling sessions. It will be proposed that what could support students in improving their learning best, is counsellors speaking less and being (consciously) silent more.

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