Turn-taking is a pedagogical strategy that supports teaching and learning in all academic subjects (Nomlomo, 2011). Its instructional and regulative aspects assist with the choice of the knowledge to be shared and proper approaches for transmission. Nomlomo (2011) stated that turn taking impacts students’ knowledge, awareness of environmental contexts, pedagogical understanding, and subject matter comprehension. Students who participate in turn taking also learn self-management, relate well with others, and become active learners.

Managing Self

Turn-taking helps children to take responsibility for their actions, emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, and utilise them productively. One of the reasons why educators use turn-taking is to manage the flow of conversations (Setiajid, Dharmawan, Putri, & Susanto, 2020). Generally, the interlocutors and speakers take turns to decide who speaks when. Turn taking consists of an allocation of turns to the next speaker(s) and the acquisition of turns. Usually, in turn taking, the current speaker selects the next by asking questions, gazing at a given person, or calling the person by name. In turns acquisition, the participants select the individuals that should speak next and the recommended actions for the speakers when their turns arrive (Nomlomo, 2011). The process helps participants to know when to begin speaking and when to stop so others can respond.

Educators and students that engage in turn taking must learn to manage their speaking time and the information they share so that the conversation goals are achieved (Setiajid et al., 2020). In classroom interactions there are participants, background, topics, conversation forms, and the appropriate message tones. Participants must understand the purpose of the classroom conversations and ensure that turn taking relates to learning objectives (Sasabone & Batlolona, 2019). Educators and learners decide the words and speech interactions to use, the ideas or thoughts to express, the feelings to trigger, and the circumstances to speak about. Moreover, they must ensure that the content they choose to convey is shared within the scheduled presentation time to allow others to also participate.     

Relating with Others

Turn taking trains children to develop good relationships with teachers and peers. The dimension teaches individuals to listen when others speak, show interest in teachers and peers, be open-minded, and avoid conflicts. Nomlomo (2011) argued that the exchange of turns, talks, and roles appear often in classroom interactions between educators and students and among students. In social contexts, Lee and Staggs (2021) explained that turn taking helps young children with autism to engage in play, develop language, and establish relationships because this reciprocal method is also applicable to preverbal communication. Even then, a teacher has to be present to help the children achieve preverbal social communication as the children with autism may be incapable of completing the process on their own (Lee & Staggs, 2021).

Teachers play key role in all classroom interactions by initiating interactions, deciding the participation time, picking the individual that should participate, taking note of participants that get more than one turn, and terminating the interaction (Sasabone & Batlolona, 2019). When properly applied, turn taking assists educators with behavioural training, attainment of joint attention, measurement of preverbal communication ability, and detection of possible developmental delays in young children. In the classroom, the teacher initiates turn-taking by giving instructions or asking questions and the students acquire turns when they respond to the instructions and questions from their teacher (Nomlomo, 2011). However, this Initiative-Respond-Feedback (IRF) system restricts how learners express ideas and even how they understand the content of various subjects (where additional languages are used when teaching). Learners in these contexts fail to develop creativity and create their own knowledge. Educators should take appropriate actions to control the negative implications of IRF.  

Active Learning

Turn-taking engages children in a learning process characterised by the creation of ideas, investigation of concepts, thinking, and discussions. With this, students’ participation in the learning process improves (Ryan & Forrest, 2019). While rejecting IRF use in turn taking, Nomlomo (2011) explained that teachers should employ comprehensible and scaffolding input as well as meaningful feedback to improve the effectiveness of classroom communication.

Such input is, particularly, essential in science teaching as children should learn to reason, observe, investigate and use science language apart from reciting and recalling the content of the subject (Nomlomo, 2011).  Aside from verbal communication, a student in the science class requires the ability to question, practical skills, and critical thinking. Appropriate turn taking guidance enables children to acquire these skills. Ryan and Forrest (2019) also mentioned that turn taking can better be implemented if educators have access to adequate information about this pedagogical approach and have enough teaching/learning resources.