The classic CA question to apply to spoken interaction is ‘why that, right now?’. This
aims to reveal the rationale for the production of a specific social action at a specific point in an
interactional sequence. The question can be applied in different contexts, however, so what if
we apply it to this special issue – why a special issue on this topic at this time? CA emerged
from the discipline of sociology in the USA in the 1960s and since then has been applied to a
wide range of professional settings in a variety of countries. Education as a discipline is wellknown
for dependence on context; procedures which work well in one setting may not work at
all in a different setting. A significant contribution of CA in the field of education has been to
provide evidence of what actually happens in classrooms around the world, illuminating the
actual processes and practices of teaching and learning. This collection shows how widely CA
approaches are being used to investigate teaching and learning through interaction in a huge
range of contexts around the world. This is clearly an approach which has come of age for
educational researchers and this special issue therefore marks a milestone!
Keywords: conversation analytic studies, international perspectives
How teachers ask questions and give feedback to student responses is an age-old topic that pervades educational research, especially empirical work that examines classroom interaction. Focusing on the understudied context of co-teaching, and a virtually unexamined dynamic with two teachers with equal roles and skills sets, this study looks at how co-teachers can jointly accomplish the initiation and feedback work in IRF sequences. Two collaborative practices, joint initiation and joint feedback, are identified and described in context. The discovery of these practices reveals that co-teachers with equal roles can jointly occupy not only the same IRF sequence, but also the same component of the sequence. Beyond uncovering some interactional characteristics of this type of collaborative interaction, the findings of this study also carry important implications for pedagogy. First, the instances of joint initiation show how co-teacher collaboration can enhance the progressivity and the pedagogical effectiveness of question-answer exchange during instruction. Second, the practice of joint feedback reflects some of the distinct advantages of having two instructors in one classroom, which include making feedback more salient for learners, creating more opportunities for one-on-one teacher-student interaction, and increasing the likelihood of spotting and addressing problems in student understanding.
This paper investigates how an English as a second language (ESL) teacher manages student embarrassment in the adult ESL classroom. Data consist of approximately 4 hours of video-recorded classroom interactions at a low-intermediate adult ESL class in the United States. Participants include a female teacher and eight adult English learners of various L1 backgrounds. Using conversation analysis, this paper describes several ways in which the teacher orients to potential displays of student embarrassment during classroom interactions: (1) excusing the failure and inviting peer support, (2) excusing the failure and providing a factual account, and (3) attributing the failure to creativity. The findings of this study contribute to the growing literature on contingency in teacher talk (e.g. Waring, 2016; Waring, Reddington, & Tadic, 2016) by identifying a set of teaching practices teachers can use to remediate student embarrassment. The study also contributes to the limited literature on embarrassment in interaction (e.g. Heath, 1988; Sandlund, 2004) by examining the sequential environments of embarrassment in the adult ESL classroom, the characteristics of and orientations to embarrassment, and how such sequences are made relevant by the participants in classroom talk-in-interaction.
This paper describes the resources drawn on to build understanding and participation in an Italian as a foreign language classroom. Extracts for analysis in the study were taken from two 50-minute lessons with 26 students aged 13 to 14 years at A2 (CEFR) level who were in their second year of high school in an Australian public school. The lessons focused on language practice in which the teacher subscribed to a L2 use only policy as part of her teacher talk. This pedagogical stance provided an opportunity to analyse how this policy affected teacher expectations with respect to what students ought to have comprehended in Italian. It did this by analysing the resources the teacher used to display these expectations through her pursuing actions, the deployment of the do you remember recognition check (Schegloff, 1988; Shaw & Kitzinger, 2007; You, 2015) and the no-one knows epistemic status check (Sert, 2013), and her alternation to the L1 when all these resources failed to lead to a display of student understanding. The study is also concerned with examining the degree of multimodal unpacking required to establish shared understanding through which the teacher’s plan as a dynamic process becomes visible.
Keywords: language alternation, epistemic expectations, Italian as a foreign language, recognition checks, epistemic status checks, plans for learning, multimodality
This paper outlines a practical approach for professional language teachers in secondary and adultlearning contexts to enhance their reflective teaching practices through conversation analysis-based action research. Conversation analysis (CA) can provide English as a foreign or second language (EFL/ESL) teachers with insights into not only classroom-discourse dynamics but also the language-learning processes of their learners. As exposure to CA becomes increasingly common in language teacher education programs, there is an opportunity to integrate CA with the broader curricular trends in teacher development and reflection. Action research is widely taught in such programs as its goal is to enhance teacher-awareness and lead to improved classroom practices. The paper will provide a framework for teachers to follow that is coherent, achievable, and above all, practical. Practicing ESL/EFL teachers present examples of their own classroom-based, CA action research from Japan, Thailand and the U.S. conducted with the aim of improving their own pedagogical awareness and situated classroom practices.
Keywords: classroom practices, conversation analysis, professional development, action research
Turn-taking in classrooms has long been a topic of interest to discourse analysts, with attention paid to turn allocation in teacher-fronted settings (McHoul, 1978; Mehan, 1979), and recent research identifying teacher practices for managing "competing voices" (Waring, 2013). This study builds on such work, asking how students engage with an open floor in "materials mode" (Walsh, 2006, 2011), where teacher and students are focused on a written text and students respond in apparent chorus. We are interested in looking at students who actively bid for turns as well as those who do not contribute verbally. Based on videotaped data from an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom and from a college reading class (both in the United States), this multimodal conversation analytic study (Mondada, 2016) identifies relevant interactional resources and practices, including talk, gaze, body position, gesture, and the physical environment. Findings suggest that 1) these apparently mundane interactions are a site for complex actions on the parts of individual students, and 2) the focus on text materials in these exchanges has consequences for participation, including temporality, sequentiality, and turn-taking. Pedagogical implications include problemetizing motivations and objectives for a common classroom ritual.
Analyses are presented of interactional excerpts containing three methods through which Japanese university students preparing for a group presentation in a required English class take an epistemic stance of uncertainty towards their own displayed knowledge of their second language (L2) English. These three methods consist of 1) producing a candidate item as uncertain, 2) casting doubt on something just said by self, and 3) overtly claiming lack of knowledge. Epistemic stance can be understood as consisting of different dimensions, with a stance of uncertainty related specifically to the dimension of epistemic access. Analyses are also presented of how other students respond or do not respond to such a stance. Through this kind of stance-taking and responses and non-responses, the students do being non-experts in their L2 without making relevant possible asymmetries in expertise. That is, by doing being non-experts among non-experts, the students construct an epistemically symmetrical, egalitarian relationship within their group.
Classroom interaction has been widely studied using the conversation analysis methodology in order to explore and understand interactional practices that enhance language learning. This research has been traditionally focused on the canonical teacher-student classroom interaction, called Initiation-Response-Feedback (IRF) sequence, composed by a teacher's first turn, a student's response and a third turn performed by the teacher to evaluate or give feedback. Variability within the IRF sequence, regarding the learner's initiative to take the floor, has been investigated and its potential benefits to generate language learning opportunities have been acknowledged. Employing Conversation Analysis, in this article we investigate learner initiatives in teacher-student interactions obtained from 40 hours of video-recorded Spanish as a foreign language lessons in Barcelona, Spain. We aim to explore and characterize students´ initiatives in a meaning-focused round robin sequence and analyze the implications of nonallocated turns for the progressivity of the interaction. The analyses reveal that some initiatives do not alter -but support- the ongoing interaction, while others lead to marked changes and readjustments in the IRF sequence.
Keywords: learner initiative, non-assigned turn, Spanish as a foreign language, IRF sequence, repair
This paper deals with high fidelity simulation (HFS) in health care. A computerized mannequin plays the role of a patient, and this device allows medical teams to train for different scenarios. For the trainees, the pedagogical aim is to learn "teamwork" or “communication” skills. The purpose of the article is to present this device as the unfolding of a complex practice: the scenario being played, the simulation being observed, and finally the debriefing of the session. The corpus is constructed around the task of preparing for an intubation. We will detail the sequential achievement of this task in the simulation room, more specifically the practical problem of passing an object between two participants. We will then present how, in the meantime in the control room, trainers notice an issue. We will then see how this event is referred to during the debriefing phase. This analysis across these multiple settings involved helps us understand how practitioners make use of the HFS device in order to assess their organizational practices.
Keywords: high fidelity simulation, multimodality, multi-activity, leadership and followership management
This study investigates if and how primary school teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) to young learners in Denmark interact in everyday classroom interaction with students who - according to a receptive vocabulary test - differ vastly in their English skills. Using Conversation Analysis, the study looks at how students present themselves in terms of claimed and demonstrated proficiency, epistemic displays, and willingness to participate, and at teachers’ methods to engage in interactions with these children, for example when they select them as next speakers. The analysis focuses on how the categories “strong” and “weak student” are co-constructed by both the teacher, the student in question, and their classmates. It seems that membership in one of these groups is written in stone, as students are not given many opportunities to be reassessed, even though continuous assessment is a prerequisite for successful differentiation. The analysis of EFL teachers’ practices of doing differentiation in teaching-in-interaction of Young Learners of EFL in Denmark contributes to our understanding of differentiation in language classrooms.
Keywords: Conversation Analysis, differentiated instruction, Young Learners, EFL, Denmark
This article explores a particular interactional practice surrounding advice in undergraduate supervision. Script proposals allow advice-givers to individualise their advice, minimise resistance and provide a model while not undermining the client’s agency (Emmison, Butler and Danby 2011). This device has been studied primarily in helpline interactions (Hepburn, Wilkinson and Butler 2014) but not yet in higher education. The audiorecorded data are from a meeting in which the tutor addresses student concerns regarding her writing process and referencing conventions. Several hallmarks of script proposals are present, including the student’s previously displayed stance, the use of idiom, three part-lists (Jefferson 1990) and contrastive pairs. Membership categories are exploited to both include and exclude the student. The enactment of supervisory roles and qualities such as empathy is analysed and then discussed through the conceptual lens of the psychological contract (Cureton and Cousin 2012) and the educational alliance (Telio, Ajjawi and Regehr 2015). While also fulfilling her tutor-mentor role, in that she supports the student in her own decisions, the tutor acts as director or project manager (Derounian 2011), taking the student through the steps in the process in a logical order (Rowley and Slack 2004). The implications for practical applications are briefly considered.
The article focuses on second language learning in an immersion kindergarten. Within the framework of conversation analysis, the study explores how learning is situated in interaction and evidenced in the participants’ verbal and embodied behavior. The data consist of videotaped everyday interaction of a group of Finnish-speaking children during their first two years of Swedish immersion. The children’s emerging second language competences are explored by analyzing how they respond to the educator’s questions and directives. The production of Swedish is investigated by analyzing how the children recycle lexical items and syntactic structures that the educator has used. In terms of second language understanding, the study reveals that the children orient to the educator’s embodied actions at the initial stages. They do not initiate repair even if their response shows that their understanding is partial. During the second term, the children show increasing understanding of the verbal turns, and they also initiate repair in case of understanding problems. In terms of active production of second language, the study shows that the children first recycle lexemes and expressions previously used by the educator. At later stages, they also recycle syntactic structures, and modify the recycled items in Swedish. The focus of the study are the learning processes, but the products of learning are also in evidence, and manifested in the ways the children show understanding of the second language and how they use it.
Keywords: conversation analysis, second language learning, immersion, recycling, repair
Previous studies have pointed out the need to consider carefully how digital tools are presented in schools to ensure their use meets authentic needs for today’s knowledge society. This implies that learning tasks should be planned so students’ practice with technological and digital resources such as videoconferencing and text chats resembles potential communicative situations they may face outside the classroom. Along these lines, this article analyses a 44-minute Skype videoconferencing session involving two small groups of middle school students who are studying English as a Foreign Language (EFL). The data come from a wider-scale telecollaborative project between two classes, one in Sweden and another in Spain, in which the students had to collaborate on a public awareness raising initiative regarding the Syrian refugee crisis. Applying a multimodal Conversation Analysis (CA) approach, the study aims to ‘unpack’ the complexity of the multiple resources used by the participants during the interaction. In particular, the article focuses on how the learners use multiple resources to creatively mediate their communication and to resolve problems that emerge during their interaction in the foreign language. The findings of the analysis can help identify key foci for task design in similar online foreign language learning settings.
Keywords: telecollaboration, technology, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Conversation Analysis (CA), social semiotics
This paper is concerned with a Conversation Analytic (CA) study of teachers’ demonstrations of epistemic access to a student’s domain or territory of information in teacher-student interactions in a digital setting. It describes interactional practices analyzed in 12 excerpts with an explicit reference to information about students’ progress provided by the digital system. It will be shown that teachers initiate interactions about already fulfilled assignments that are shown to be problematic. In the opening of the interaction, teachers more or less explicitly refer to the digital programme as an information source and/or to the hitches in student’s progress. In the continuation of the interaction, teacher and student are concerned with a redoing of assignments. In this phase of the interaction, the teacher demonstrates epistemic access to possible causes for students’ mistakes. In all cases, students do not show resistance to teachers’ demonstrations of epistemic access to knowledge and experiences falling into their epistemic domain. The findings confirm teachers’ and students’ orientation to the educational context as being a specialized context where students’ problems are not treated as ‘theirs to know and describe’. The findings in this paper shed light on interactional practices in relation to epistemics, as well as on interactional practices in a digital setting.
Keywords: conversation analysis, teacher-student interaction, epistemics, digital tools
Building on William Barnes’ research (1992; 2008; 2010) on how exploratory talk can be used as a tool to work on understanding and promote learning in L1 elementary school classrooms, I examine exploratory talk in the adult ESL classroom. Ten hours of two adult ESL classes were videotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using a conversation analytic (CA) framework. The analysis shows that exploratory talk is implemented through a 5-stage sequential structure and can be teacher- or jointly-led. Each stage in the sequence is introduced, supported, and managed as much by gestures, gaze, and movement as by talk and silence. The findings not only suggest that exploratory talk offers an important resource for resolving language issues but also how this can be done step-by-step in real time. The findings contribute to previous research on exploratory talk by locating this talk within larger exploratory sequences, calling attention to crucial nonverbal conduct, and examining these sequences in the adult ESL classroom.
Keywords: exploratory talk, classroom discourse, conversation analysis, English as a Second Language
The research reported here is part of a broader research project on bilingual Bangladeshi ESL schools. The study seeks to find out how a prescribed language policy that is operating at the school informs classroom instruction. To do so, it uses the distinction between medium of instruction and medium of interaction, introduced by Bonacina & Gafaranga (2011), to examine how participants to instructional exchanges orient their actions to the language policy as well as to locally emerging interactional challenges. Through multimodal conversation analysis the study shows how participants sustain, suppress or even overlook the medium of instruction in the service of doing instruction. These findings therefore contribute to the existing literature on language policy-in-practice and language alternation in bilingual classrooms.
Keywords: language alternation, bilingual classroom, multimodal analysis, conversation analysis, medium of classroom interaction.
Research on the classical IRE-sequences in the classroom context has highlighted teachers’ use of questions as teaching tools and how questioning processes serve as efficient learning tools. One especially important turn in questioning processes is the third position of the sequence which incorporates the potential to enhance learning and provide resources for students. This article examines sequences similar to the IRE-sequence – student-initiated question sequences – focusing on the third position of these sequences. In the default question sequence, the third position is used to signal an acceptance of the prior response. The analysis examines turns that signal disalignment with the teacher and may therefore communicate a challenge or an objection to the teacher. The aim is to demonstrate how the different formats of third positions are used to express fine-grained challenges concerning the granularity of knowledge and epistemic responsibilities. Thus, non-aligning dialogue particles, follow-up questions or postexpansions in third position can convey a challenging quality. The research method adopted is ethnomethodological conversation analysis. A detailed sequential analysis demonstrates that troubles encountered in mutual understanding may be related to issues of epistemicity and moral order. A central result is that question sequences provide the participants with learning tools that connect to the organisation of emotional and moral issues.
Keywords: classroom interaction, question sequences, third position turns, epistemicity
Whilst the focus of attention in an instrumental music lesson is refinement of the student’s musical performance, conversation plays an essential role; not just as a way to analyse the student’s musical contributions, but to organise them within the lesson flow. Participants may respond to talk through performance and vice versa, or even spend periods of time exchanging purely musical contributions. The short musical fragments exchanged by the participants are managed within lesson dialogue in ways analogous to conversational turn-taking. Problems in the student’s performance are refined through both student self-initiated and tutor other-initiated repair, initiated by embodied action and play. A fundamental part of turn-taking is managing the transition to a new speaker. The presence of musical contributions allows for additional types of transition, for example from a turn at talk, to a musical contribution. In conversation, there is generally a preference for a short pause at the transition to a new speaker, and overlap tends to be minimised when it occurs. Through detailed qualitative video analysis of a one-to-one clarinet lesson, we find differences in the preferences regarding overlap when purely musical contributions are being exchanged, and that the duration of overlap during these exchanges of fragments of music are significant.
Keywords: music education, conversation analysis, repair, overlap, interaction
This paper investigates aphasia speech therapy as a particular form of institutional interaction dedicated to the recovery of language and communicative abilities in adult speakers. This specific form of social interaction involves both health and pedagogical issues, by presenting features generally observed in instructional settings. The paper investigates these features by focusing on the interactional and sequential organisation of naming activity – that is, the activity of naming a card. Through detailed analyses of participants’ multimodal conduct, it is shown that this task (e.g. producing a specific linguistic item) is collaboratively accomplished. This thus defends a conception of the therapy as a socially situated and collaborative process, whose dynamics must be investigated taking into consideration participants’ multimodal resources. By focusing in particular on the cueing practices used by the therapist in order to assist the client’s word retrieval and production of the target item, the paper shows that these practices are strictly dependent on the micro-details of interaction, on the client’s audible and visible conduct, and as such are incrementally and locally occasioned. It therefore highlights the active role played by the client in negotiating the assistance needed by the therapist and, more broadly, in co-constructing the therapeutic process.