The frequencies and functions of discourse markers in the Iranian university EFL classroom discourse

2015 IJRSLL – Volume 4 Issue 2


Nejadansari, Dariush
University of Isfahan, Iran (

Mohammadi, Ali Mohamad*
University of Isfahan, Iran (


Classroom discourse is the investigation of the models of classroom participation and is a comprehensive and multidimensional phenomenon. As semantically empty and functionally complicated linguistic devices, discourse markers assist the teachers and the learners monitor their discourse in the classroom. This exploratory study analyzed the frequency of occurrence, distribution, and the pragmatic functions of DMs in the Iranian university EFL teachers’ and learners’ classroom discourse quantitatively and qualitatively. Applying Fraser (1999, 2008) taxonomy, the researchers explored the frequency of occurrence and distribution of discourse markers quantitatively. The qualitative phase researched the functions of DMs on the basis of Brinton’s (1996) classification. The data was recorded and transcribed from four EFL teachers’ and students’ classroom interactions. The results revealed that the subjects applied few DMs -7.76% out of the whole lexical size; overemployed message relating DMs; underused focus and attention markers; and never used comment and attitude markers. Also, in the process of monitoring discourse, teachers utilized more than 60% of DMs and their gender played no significant part. Moreover, the subjects applied textual functions more frequently than interpersonal functions, overusing information indicators and underusing closing and turn giving markers. The insufficient and imbalanced use of DMs and their relevant functions provide the evidence for the typical neglect of the knowledge of these discourse managing and regulating devices as an educational reality due to the inadequate input for discourse pedagogy in the Iranian university EFL context. This study can have some pedagogical implications for curriculum designers, teachers, learners, teacher trainers, and materials developers.

Keywords: classroom discourse; frequencies; functions; discourse markers



*Corresponding Author