My Profile and Students’ comments on “Beyond Talk”   9 comments

My Passion for teaching

Having lived in various countries and acquired other languages as an older teenager I have a natural empathy for second/foreign language (L2)  learners. I have a passion for teaching ESL  and researching to improve my teaching and understanding of L2 learners. I endeavour to help adult learners to better integrate in mainstream life and not being on the edge of society, too often living in isolation. I believe we need to teach real life language and not scripted textbook  language which is artificial and does not reflect actual language use. More to the the point scripted conversations alienate students from real life, native speakers as well as near native speakers. It’s been commonly reported in my research by L2 learners that they don’t know how to start, close a conversation, what to talk about and what appropriate language is, i.e., L2  sociocultural norms of interaction, which include politeness. More often than not L2 learners run into all sorts of difficult situations (cf Barraja-Rohan, 2003b). I believe that as teachers we have a responsibility toward our students to make sure they acquire the necessary language to have meaningful interactions outside class with native speakers and other L2 speakers. I feel that we have a social obligation to expose students to how native speakers speak in the street as EAL (English as an Additional Language) students need to have a social life and acquire the ability to be on an equal footing with native speakers in all aspects of life, work included.

I  taught all aspects of ESL/EAL since 1989: from beginners to advanced, literacy to refugees with no first language literacy, students with interrupted schooling, drama for L2 learning, CALL, EAP, ESP, IELTS and of course oral communication skills. I taught at both secondary and tertiary levels in Australia where I gained all my tertiary qualifications (University of New England, Canberrra, Monash and Melbourne universities).

I  specialised in the teaching of oral communication skills after applying Conversation Analysis to my teaching with great success. I conducted many workshops with teachers in tertiary institutions  on how to teach oral communication skills to adult EAL students (this includes talk-in-interaction, speaking and listening skills), as well applying drama techniques to L2 teaching and learning. I also trained in/pre-service teachers in EAL at tertiary level (Monash University, Australia).


2003b. Past troubles-talk in nonnative-native interviews. Journal of Pragmatics, 35/4: 615-629.

As a  Researcher

I initially learnt Conversation Analysis (CA) with Prof Rod Gardner and spent over 20 years doing research mostly on L1 & L2 interactions and its application to L2 learning and teaching. I trained in CA courses with Gail Jefferson, Paul Drew, Chuck and Candy Goodwin, Lorenza Mondada, as well as worked with Johannes Wagner and others. I presented my work at national and international conferences as well as published articles/chapters in various academic journals/books and the course book co-authored with c. Ruth Pritchard, Beyond Talk: A course in communication and conversation for intermediate adult learners of English. My research interests lay in the application of Conversation Analysis to both teaching and learning ESL/EFL, intercultural competence, conversation analysis (L1 speakers and L2 speakers), L2 interactional competence and the use of drama to enhance L2 learning. I believe that there is still a lack of concern in the curriculum for developing a socially oriented interactional competence in our students .

If you would like to read more about this approach to teaching and learning EAL please visit the following website:


The Development of Beyond Talk and Students’ comments on Beyond Talk

Beyond  Talk took me 3 years to develop, design, and write. It is based on classroom-based research (CA analyses of  my own students’ interactions from upper beginners to upper intermediate levels as well as extensive field & observation notes), designing, trialing, refining my own materials with students from different levels, and on research conducted in Conversation Analysis as well as in Politeness Pragmatics. I shared ideas with Ruth Pritchard, who initially by developing  materials based on Conversation Analysis for beginners, was the catalyst for me to be involved in applying CA to the ESL classroom and furthering its application. My background in drama proved to be very useful in developing the materials and activities. I led a team (technicians, participants for the conversations and research assistants) for the development of the filmed conversations and the audiotaped exercises, etc. as well as supervised the trial of Beyond Talk, which was done at 2 tertiary institutions by a variety of teachers. We also conducted questionnaires with numerous ESL students on their views of the use of Beyond Talk and we had an overwhelming positive response of 90% commenting  that they much enjoyed the course and benefited much from it. Students from various language levels have made the following comments ( their names have been deleted for privacy reason):

One student:

“I can learn the way which is native speaker speak” (sic)

“I find that I can easily to speak to Australians now because I am using English a lot more than before” (sic)

Another student:

Because I can used conversation in the street or somewhere” (sic)

“Because I can understand someone to talking or speaking” (sic)

Another student:

It pushed me to think about my problems of conversation” (sic)

Another student:

Because it’s help me to know how to speak English, it’s very important point” (sic)

“Because when I study English, now I know something more, it is help me more confident about it” (sic)

Another student:

“I can learn how to communicate with other people employment, workforce manage business or local people.” (sic)

Another Student:

“Because I noticed some of their body language that have especial meaning and that is good to know about some expression they used in their daily life”. (sic)

Another student:

“Because it confirms how important for me practice to place stronger stresses on keywords and work on the intonation.” (sic)

“Because  I had extra practice in conversations with different topics.” (sic)

“Because now I know many things about listener’s role, for example, feedback tokens, use of intonation, and it helps easier understand anyone’s conversation and when some speaks with me.” (sic)

“Because by cultural differences could be misunderstanding between people from different background.” (sic)

Another student:

“Because the study of conversation is the pathway go to any ways in the social life.” (sic)

“Because I am comfortable when I want to have a conversation with another people.” (sic)

Another student:

“[it ] help me understand more english in outschool.” (sic)


Vietnamese students who participated in my ESL with CA class, and a colleague who participated in the videoed conversations.

photo de WMIT

©Anne-Marie Barraja-Rohan and “Teaching ESL or EFL with CA”, 1997 to present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anne-Marie Barraja-Rohan and “Teaching ESL or EFL with CA” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


Posted 08/30/2009 by ESLandCAteaching

9 responses to “My Profile and Students’ comments on “Beyond Talk”

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  1. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I am going to be teaching conversational English to adults in Taipei from August 2010 and am seraching for some type of textbook which will guide me. It will be my first job as ESL teacher and I’d like to make it dynamic. Do you have a book and if so, how can I order it?

    Grace Hosken
    • Hi Grace, you can download my book from the blog and if you’re interested I can send you for free the DVD and CD. Let me know. Best of luck with your teaching!

  3. Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great but the comments bring more brainstorm ideas, thanks.

    – Johnson

    • I appreciate your comment. I could see why it took you so long to read the article, it was full of errors so thanks for your input. Hopefully all the errors have been corrected. Anne-Marie

  4. Hi. I chanced upon your blog when I was looking for profiles of people learning English as a second language. Where can I get a hold of Beyond Talk. It sounds like a good read.

  5. I m very glad to have read this article. It has helped me gain a great deal of knowledge on this subject. I would love to read more of your articles……… thank you so much for posting this article…….

  6. Nice Education blog thanks for providing good reading article…We areESL Employer is a ESL job site for English teachers and recruiters to connect and share information, news, lesson plans, videos, and pictures. English Jobs from all over the world are available.

  7. Hello Anne-Marie, I am doing informal english lessons with my neighbour in Cambodia. She has learnt english in school by rote and can read quite well but her comprehension is limited. Your method sounds great for this context as I am also learning Khmer we could trade conversations. It will hopefully also give me greater insight into local culture and socio-linguistic factors. There are very few resources available for learning Khmer so doing some conversation analysis would be a valuable tool for my own learning. As we study english conversation I hope that it will highlight for her common differences to share with me. Could you please send me the audio files /dvd to accompany the books, and thank you for making the resources available.

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