Patterns of interactional dominance influence students’ access to educational opportunities through degrees of participation in classroom discourse. In this paper, two separate studies are used to explore the classroom experience of students in International Baccalaureate (IB) classrooms and university classrooms from an intercultural perspective. The first is a study examining the nature of classroom discourse through video recordings of 100 classroom episodes from Year 6 to Year 12 revealing a wide range of intricately interconnected and interdependent discourses existing within the classrooms for which the teacher was the major determinant. It was found that discourses competed in terms of both form and function, and also within the discourse itself, students competed for dominance. Within an IB classroom context, discourse is focused on the negotiation of meaning. In order to examine the nature of competing discourses, this paper examines the results of the first study in relation to the findings of a second study investigating different negotiating styles across cultures demonstrated by university students in Japan from different cultural backgrounds.
Using transcribed conversational data from three different negotiation sessions involving university students from different cultural backgrounds, the second study identified and found these were analyzed linguistic strategies such as silence, talk distribution, question asking and directness/indirectness were in relation to the reported perceptions of the participants. These findings suggest that different linguistic negotiation strategies are likely to be used and interpreted very differently within a culturally diverse classroom context. An examination of the IB classroom discourse in the first study using the intercultural perspective of the second study reveals that in order for a teacher to more closely align classroom discourse with IB philosophy, it may not be enough to introduce instructional strategies that support student-centered discourse; students’ intercultural interactional competencies also need to be developed.