Discourse pragmatic perspectives on classroom interaction

Responsible researcher: Tarja Nikula

Partners: Christiane Dalton-Puffer (University of Vienna), Ute Smit (University of Vienna), Leila Kääntä (Department of Languages, University of Jyväskylä)

Duration: 2005–2008

Funding: Academy of Finland


The project investigated classroom interaction in English lessons (EFL) and in the so-called content and language integrated learning (CLIL) lessons in which English is used as the medium of instruction. Special attention was paid to the social and interpersonal functions of language use in, for example, creating and maintaining social relationships, roles, and identities. The results showed that English was used in very different ways in CLIL and EFL classrooms and that the role of English abstract system to be taught and memorized on the one hand as a resource for learning and interaction on the other was not only institutionally defined but also discoursally  constructed. This had important implications for how much ‘space for interaction’ in English the two setting provided for students.


Nikula, T. 2005.  English as an object and tool of study: interactional effects and pragmatic implications. Linguistics and Education, 16 (1), 27-58.

Dalton-Puffer, C. & Nikula, T. 2006. Pragmatics of content-based instruction: teacher and student directives in Finnish and Austrian classrooms. Applied Linguistics, 27 (2), 241-267.

Nikula, T.  2007a: Speaking English in Finnish content-based classrooms. World Englishes, 26 (2), 206-223.

Nikula, T. 2007b. The IRF pattern and space for interaction: Observations on EFL and CLIL classrooms. In C. Dalton-Puffer & U. Smit (eds.) Empirical Perspectives on CLIL Classroom Discourse. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 179-204.

Nikula, T. 2008a. Learning pragmatics in content-based classrooms. In  E. Alcón & A. Martinez-Flor (eds.) Investigating Pragmatics in Foreign Language Learning, Teaching, and Testing. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 94–113.

Alanen, R., Jäppinen, A-K. & Nikula, T. 2008b. “But big is a funny word”: A multiple
perspective on concept formation in a foreign-language-mediated classroom. Journal of Applied Linguistics,(1)/2006, 69-90.

Nikula, T. 2008c: Oppilaiden osallistuminen luokkahuonevuorovaikutukseen englanninkielisessä aineenopetuksessa (Students’ participation in classroom interaction in Finnish content-based teaching’) In S. Leppänen, T. Nikula & L. Kääntä (eds.) Kolmas kotimainen. Lähikuvia englannin käytöstä Suomessa. (‘Third domestic language. Case studies of English in Finland’). Helsinki: SKS.

Nikula, T. 2008d. Kieli vaihtuu, vaihtuuko opetustyyli? (‘Language changes, how about the style of teaching?’) In M. Garant, I. Helin & H. Yli-Jokipii (eds.) Kieli ja globalisaatio - Language and Globalization. AFinLA Yearbook n:o 66,  Jyväskylä: AFinLA,  275–309.

Nikula, T. 2010. On effects of CLIL on a teacher’s classroom language use. Teoksessa C. Dalton-Puffer, T. Nikula & U. Smit (toim.) Language Use and Language Learning in CLIL. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 105-123.