Reflexive Expressions as Discourse Strategies in Teachers' Talk to Children with Developmental Language Disorders in Language-based Kindergartens


  • Rachel Yifat University of Haifa
  • Sara Zadunaisky-Ehrlich Beit Berl Academic College
  • Sigal Uziel-Karl University of Haifa
  • Karen Banai University of Haifa



classroom discourse, developmental language disorders


The purpose of this study is to examine teachers’ reflexive expressions (REs) referring to what has been said or about to be said by the child, and directed at Typically Developing (TD) preschool and kindergarten children and at children with Developmental Language Disorders (DLD) who attend language-based kindergartens. Specific aims included (a) identifying the use of REs in teachers’ talk during circle-time meetings (in language-based kindergartens, and regular preschool or kindergarten); (b) characterizing the REs based on their form and function; and (c) identifying the similarities and differences between REs directed toward TD children and those directed toward children with DLD. Thirty-one circle-time sessions were recorded: ten at preschools for TD children, ten at kindergartens for TD children, and 11 at language-based kindergartens. Verbal interactions were transcribed and analyzed, using the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES), and coded for categories of REs. Six major categories of REs were identified, with some categories emerging more frequently than others. Two categories differentiated teachers’ talk to TD children from those directed to children with DLD – metalinguistic expressions and requests for reported speech. These findings highlight the idea that in order to meet children’s needs, teachers should be aware of the important role that interactional strategies play in scaffolding language development. Analyzing REs provides an opportunity to reflect on teachers’ instructive assumptions about how to support linguistic and conversational skills of children with DLD.

Author Biographies

Rachel Yifat, University of Haifa

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Social Welfare Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.

Sara Zadunaisky-Ehrlich, Beit Berl Academic College

Dr Sara Zadunaisky-Ehrlich is attached to the School of Education – Beit Berl Academic College, Israel.

Sigal Uziel-Karl, University of Haifa

Dr Sigal Uziel-Karl is attached to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Social Welfare Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel.

Karen Banai, University of Haifa

Dr Karen Banai is attached to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Social Welfare Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel.


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How to Cite

Yifat, R., Zadunaisky-Ehrlich, S., Uziel-Karl, S., & Banai, K. (2012). Reflexive Expressions as Discourse Strategies in Teachers’ Talk to Children with Developmental Language Disorders in Language-based Kindergartens. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 3(1), 91–113.