Using Cogenerative Dialogues to Foster Community and Support English Language Learner Students' Learning



Given the collaborative nature of the TESOL profession, models are needed that provide opportunities for teachers and other school-based stakeholders to interact with students to understand their successes, challenges, and particular needs more clearly. In this article, the authors advocate for the use of cogenerative dialogues, a promising practice for learning more about the teaching and learning needs of English language learners (ELLs) in a specific learning context. Cogenerative dialogues are discussions involving students and teachers that foreground problems and generate strategies to improve teaching and learning. The dialogues were implemented as part of a larger, mixed-methods study in two urban middle school science classrooms in the United States. The authors discuss beneficial outcomes and tensions for both ELL students and teachers. Benefits included (1) creating opportunities for students to develop a voice, (2) assuming responsibilities for learning, (3) sharing responsibilities for language acquisition and learning, and (4) developing a sense of community. They also address two other specific concerns: the language proficiency levels of the students who are involved, and the cultural practices around critiquing teaching and learning.