n South African Journal of Education - Learning from professional conversation : a conversation analysis study

Volume 40 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



This article analyses conversation around classroom discipline to establish how teachers learn through professional conversation. The study was a qualitative study that originally adopted an ethno-methodological research design. Purposive sampling was used to select 6 primary school teachers from the East London Education District in the Eastern Cape. A video recorder was used to capture the conversation which lasted for 31 minutes 56 seconds after school hours. The recording was viewed repeatedly and transcribed verbatim. Three learning episodes were selected from the transcript for further transcription following Jefferson’s notations for conversation analysis purposes. Clayman and Gill’s (2004) conversation analysis levels were used to analyse selected episodes to establish how teachers learn through professional conversation. The findings show that teachers learn through requesting advice and testing ideas, and through the sharing of ideas. The findings also indicate that teachers use response preferences (response favourites both in agreement or disagreement during conversation), repairing or assisting one another through talking, nodding, and laughing as learning strategies. The study concludes that professional conversation is relevant for continuing teachers’ professional development. We recommend that teachers should embrace professional conversation for exchanging knowledge and experiences for learning purposes. We also encourage teachers to adopt conversational strategies highlighted in this study for professional learning purposes. Research experts on teacher learning should be involved in school workshops in order to further enhance teacher learning in specific areas.

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