A Critical Approach to L2 Classroom Discourse Competence

Some Preliminary Considerations for English Language Teaching


  • Peter Schildhauer Universität Bielefeld




classroom discourse, English language teaching, social justice, teacher competence, Critial Applied Linguistics, inclusion


This article develops a proposal for a Critical Second Language (L2) Classroom Discourse Competence (CDC) for (English) language teachers. The proposal takes the comprehensive competence model as a starting point which Thomson (2022) presents in her volume on Classroom Discourse Competence, and argues that the existing model is highly valuable yet lacking in two aspects: 1) It does not yet consider the interconnectedness of classroom discourse with discourses outside the classroom. 2) In its focus on L2 acquisition (in the sense of language structures), it neglects the fact that another key task of 21st-century L2 teaching is fostering inclusion and, hence, social justice in and beyond the classroom. Consequently, this contribution argues that today’s L2 teachers’ classroom performance should not only provide a model of language structures, but also of inclusive and empowering discourse practices. To provide such a model, L2 teachers need a Critical L2 CDC. Hence, this article proposes to add knowledge, skills, and awareness elements to Thomson’s L2 CDC model, turning it into a Critical L2 CDC model. These considerations are specified by a multimodal interaction analysis of classroom videos from (inclusive) English lessons (years 5, 6, 9) that employ learner-centred methods. This analysis reveals the use of power-asymmetrical turn-taking practices and a potentially exclusive use of gender categories for classroom management. The article concludes by pointing out the potential role of teacher education in fostering Critical L2 CDC.


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Schildhauer, P. (2023). A Critical Approach to L2 Classroom Discourse Competence: Some Preliminary Considerations for English Language Teaching. PFLB – PraxisForschungLehrer*innenBildung, 5(3), 58–76. https://doi.org/10.11576/pflb-6282