The teacher’s role in supporting two-way language learning in classroom tandem

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The aim of this paper is to outline the teacher’s role in classroom tandem. Classroom tandem is a student-centred model of language learning and instruction; there is a need for more knowledge about the teacher’s role in a tandem classroom. Tandem learning, based on a social-interactional view of second language learning, requires that two students with different first languages cooperate in dyads. They switch languages and, in turns, act as learners in their respective second languages as well as models and support in their first languages. The empirical data consist of video recordings of teacher–student interactions in tandem classrooms in a bilingual, upper-secondary school campus. The analysis focuses on situations, where teachers interact with individual tandem dyads. We identify how teachers orient to different aspects of the tandem dyads’ cooperation and language knowledge. Based on the analyses, we outline different roles of a tandem teacher. In addition to a facilitator role that is common for teachers in all school subjects today, tandem teachers act as language experts, as in all language instruction. The role of the teacher specific to classroom tandem entails coaching students in their roles as language resources and second language learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-549
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Classroom tandem
  • Teacher's role
  • tandem learning
  • Second language instruction
  • Second language learning


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