Phil Chappell has distilled this list of do's and don'ts for teachers interested in promoting learner interaction in the language classroom from Mercer and Howe's (2012) paper in Learning, Culture and Social Interaction (as he says, "publicly available for now," the link is in his blog post):
- use some ‘open’ questions to explore students’ ideas
- encourage students to put knowledge into their own words (while also offering them new vocabulary to accommodate new ideas)
- press students to elaborate and justify their views, e.g. ‘How did you know that?’, ‘Why?’, ‘Can you say a bit more?’
- allow students extended turns to express their thoughts and reveal their misunderstandings
- hold back demonstrations or explanations until the ideas of some students have been heard (so that explanations can be linked to what has been said and to issues raised)
- give students enough time to construct thoughtful answers to questions, rather than moving quickly on if they are hesitant
- use whole class discussion to help students see the point and purpose of their study of a topic
- at least sometimes, allow students’ comments to shift the direction of a discussion (and even, perhaps, of a lesson!)
- ‘model’ ways of using language to conduct rational arguments, so that students can learn by example. (Mercer & Howe, 2012, pp. 17-18).
Phil Chappell has much more to say about this in his blog post, as well as other teaching and research references.