Filler Utterances of Instructors in ELT Context

Aloisius Wisnu Mahendra(1*), Barli Bram(2)
(1) Sanata Dharma University, Indonesia
(2) Sanata Dharma University, Indonesia
(*) Corresponding Author
DOI : 10.24256/ideas.v7i2.999


This study investigated filler utterances produced by English instructors teaching a general English course considering that fillers play crucial roles in English language teaching (ELT) contexts. Data, consisting of 981 filler utterances, were collected from recorded teaching sessions conducted by female and male English instructors at the Language Institute of Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The collected data, in the form of transcribed texts containing instructors’ filler utterances, were examined with the discourse analysis method. The findings showed that the female instructors produced more types of fillers with the total of 639 utterances and the male ones 342. Fourteen types of phrase fillers uttered by the female instructors were as follows: actually, alright, and then, anyway, I guess, I mean, I think, okay, right, so, well, ya (yes), you know, and you see. Thirteen kinds of phrase fillers identified among the male instructors’ utterances were alright, and now, and then, anyway, I guess, I mean, I think, okay, right, so, well, ya (yes), and you know. The frequently identified fillers shared benefits in terms of introducing topics, getting the students’ attention, giving instructions, searching for words, and emphasizing and confirming ideas.



discourse analysis; ELT; filler; instructor; utterance


Ambrosio, Y. M., Binalet, C., Ferrer R., & Yang J. (2015). Analysis of language functions in children’s classroom discourse. International Journal of Education and Research, 3(2), 105-114.

Baalen, I. V. (2001). Male and female language: Growing together?. Retrieved on September 25, 2018 from http://www.let.leideuhiv.nI/hsl_shl/VanBaalen.htm.

Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (5th ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Brennan, S., & Schober. M. (2001). How listeners compensate for disfluencies in spontaneous speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 44, 274–296.

Brown, G. &Yule, G. (1983). Discourse analysis. London. Cambridge University Press.

Bygate, M. (1987). Speaking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carter, R. (1993). Introducing applied linguistics: An A-Z guide. Harlow: Penguin English.

Clark, H. H. (1996). Using language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, H. H., & Fox Tree, J. E. (2002). Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking. Cognition, 84, 73-111.

Cook, G. (1989). Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Corley M., MacGregor L. J., & Donaldson D. (2007). It's the way that you, er, say it: Hesitations in speech affect language comprehension. Cognition, 105(3), 658-668.

Dalton, P., & Hardcastle, W. (1977). Disorders of fluency. London: Edward Arnold.

Du Bois, J. W. (1974). Syntax in mid-sentence. Berkeley studies in syntax and semantics, 1(3), 1-25.

Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (2003). Language and gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Elliot, R., & Timulak, L. (2005). Descriptive and interpretive approaches to qualitative research. In J. Miles & P. Gilbert (Eds.), A handbook of research methods in clinical and health psychology, pp 147-159. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Erten, S. (2014). Teaching fillers and students’ filler usage: A study conducted at ESOGU Preparation School. International Journal of Teaching and Education, 2(3), 67-79.

Filipi, A., & Wales, R. (2003). Differential uses of okay, right, and alright, and their function in signaling perspective shift or maintenance in a map task. Semiotica, 47, 429-455.

Fraundorf, S., & Watson, D. (2011). The disfluent discourse: Effects of filled pauses on recall. Journal of Memory and Language, 65(2), 161–175.

Garcés Conejos, P., & Bou Franch, P. (2002). A pragmatic account of listenership implications from foreign/second language teaching. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, 15, 81-102.

Grice, G., & Skinner, J. F. (2006). Mastering public speaking (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Gryc, J. (2014). Fillers in academic spoken English. Published bachelor’s thesis. Masaryk University, Czech Republic.

Jay, T. B. (2003). The psychology of language. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Jorgensen, M., & Phillips, L. (2002). Discourse analysis as theory and method. London: Sage Publications.

Kharismawan, P. Y. (2017). The types and the functions of the fillers used in Barack Obama’s speeches. International Journal of Humanity Studies, 1(1), 111-119.

McCarthy, M. (2002). Discourse analysis for language teachers. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.

Mukti, N. I., & Wahyudi, R. (2015). EFL students’ uses of um as filers in classroom presentations. Journal of Language and Communication, 2(1), 63-76.

Novarretta, C. (2015). The functions of fillers, filled pauses and co-occurring gestures in Danish dyadic conversations. In Proceedings of the 3rd European Symposium on Multimodal Communication (pp. 55-61) Dublin.

Pamolango, V. A. (2016). An analysis of the fillers used by Asian students in Busan, South Korea: A comparative study. International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics, 2(3), 96-99.

Pamolango, V. A. (2015). Types and functions of fillers used by the female teacher and lecturer in Surabaya. Parafrase, 15(1), 11-15.

Rennie, D. L., Phillips, J. R., & Quartaro, G. K. (1988). Grounded theory: A promising approach to conceptualization in psychology. Canadian Psychology, 29, 139–150.

Rose, C. S., & Nilsen, K. (2013). Communicating professionally: A how-to-do-it manual (3rd ed.). Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

Rose, R. L. (1998). The communicative value of filled pauses in spontaneous speech. Published master’s thesis, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Sanjaya, A. A., & Nugrahani, V. E. (2018). Speech disfluency in groups’ presentations of English education master’s program students. LLT Journal: A Journal on Language and Language Teaching, 21(1), 11-26. Retrieved from

Santos, N. M. B., & Alarcón, M. M. H. (2016). Fillers and the development of oral strategic competence in foreign language learning. Porta Linguarium, 25, 191-201.

Schachter, S., Christenfeld, N., Ravina, B., & Bilous, F. (1991). Speech disfluency and the structure of knowledge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 362-367.

Schacter, S., Rauscher, F., Christenfeld, N., & Crone, K.T. (1994). The vocabularies of academia. Psychological Science, 5, 37-41.

Starks, H. & Trinidad, S. B. (2007). Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Qualitative Health Research, 17(10), 1372-1380.

Tottie, G. (2014). Uh and um in British and American English: Are they words? Evidence from co-occurrence with pauses. In N. Dion, A. Lapierre, & R. T. Cacoullos (Eds.), Linguistic variation: Confronting fact and theory (pp. 38– 54). New York: Routledge.

Wertz, F. J. (1983). From everyday to psychological description: Analyzing the moments of a qualitative data analysis. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 14, 197–241.

Wood, L. A. & Kroger, R. O. (2000). Doing discourse analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Yule, G. (2006). The study of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Article Statistic

Abstract view : 116 times
PDF views : 97 times

The PDF file you selected should load here if your Web browser has a PDF reader plug-in installed (for example, a recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader).

If you would like more information about how to print, save, and work with PDFs, Highwire Press provides a helpful Frequently Asked Questions about PDFs.

Alternatively, you can download the PDF file directly to your computer, from where it can be opened using a PDF reader. To download the PDF, click the Download link above.

Fullscreen Fullscreen Off

Full Text: PDF

How To Cite This :


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 IDEAS: Journal on English Language Teaching and Learning, Linguistics and Literature