By Allyson Julé (auth.)
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Additional resources for Gender, Participation and Silence in the Language Classroom: Sh-Shushing the Girls
The implication s of such co nditions point to the possibility of girls having less oppo rtunity to speak and engage with ideas, perhap s ha ving lower confidence as a result, and having less recognition of their presence or involvement in general. In the rapid exchange in classroom discussions of teacher-student talk, it is often the first student who respond s by raising a han d or making eye contact who receives the attention of the class. Swan n (1998) and others suggest tha t such responders are usually male.
She selected certain categories as relevant to a discussion of gende r and language . Such linguistic features in her research are: topic and topic introduction; latching; minimal response ; hedg ing; question s; and tum -taking. The features tha t she identifies are underpinned by her belief that female speech is not weak but rather often based on a goal of 'maintenance of good social relationships' (p. 139). Coates goes on to state that certain conversational settings might J4 I,,/m;ubjecriviry, Language GIl5ST'OOI1U, and &lid" require varying levels of competition over relationship-building speech patterns for both males and females.
As such , O'B arr and Atkins suggested tha t women 's language has been interpreted as 'powerless' language, but that such language patterns are not gender specific but power specific. However, in tum, their conclusions seemed contradictory in tha t they persiste d in seeing female use of language as weak even though this 'weakness' could be co mpensated for by experience or by social status. Coat es (1993, 1996, 1998a , 1998b) discusses their research and others like it, such as West (1984) and Woods (1989), and suggests otherwise: that , regardless of social class or experience, it is gender that provides the point of reference regarding power in conversations.