TESL Canada Journal, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2002

Speaking Their Sex: A Study of Gender and Linguistic Space in an ESL Classroom

Allyson Jule


This study is an exploration of the amount of talk (also referred to as "linguistic space," Mahony, 1985) used by girls as opposed to boys in a grade 2 ESL classroom located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The focus was on the amount of language used by the girls in teacher-led classroom lessons. Data were collected through videotaped observations, which were then transcribed, measured by counting words, and analyzed for conversational opportunities. The findings revealed that being a girl may have affected participation in the classroom lessons, and by extension affected language-learning opportunities. The particular lack of linguistic space in the girls' experience suggests that the girls in this classroom may be limited in language use. Their silence appeared partly influenced by the teacher's response to their comments. The article concludes with a discussion of gender as a significant linguistic variable in an ESL experience.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v19i2.928

ISSN: 0826-435X
Online ISSN: 1925-8917 

TESL Canada Journal is indexed in CBCA Education (Canadian Education Index), EBSCO, ERIC, The Gale Group, and H.W. Wilson