Applying insights from conversation analysis to teach turn-taking to second language learners

Ryan, Jonathon and Forrest, Leslie (2014) Applying insights from conversation analysis to teach turn-taking to second language learners. The 9th Australasian Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Conference (AIEMCA) 2014, Hamilton, New Zealand, 20-21 November, 2014.

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In turn-taking, the highly-coordinated “split-second timing” that is typical of transitions from one speaker to another appears to be enabled by the interactants’ sensitivity to the trajectory of multiple intersecting features of talk that project (i.e. signal) forthcoming completion of units of talk (Ford & Thompson, 1996). While the underlying turn-taking system (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson, 1974) may be universal, cross-linguistic variations are observed in tolerance for overlap or pausing, which may ultimately stem from variations in syntax and prosody (Wong & Waring, 2010). It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that second language users report substantial difficulties identifying turn-taking opportunities in group discussions in some tertiary settings (Fisher & Kemsley, 2013). Despite such issues, turn-taking is seldom addressed in English preparation courses. For addressing learner problems, conversation analysis (CA) appears to offer the most robust and insightful theoretical framework, yet the application of CA to language teaching content “is still in its infancy” (Barraja-Rohan, 2011, p. 480) and there are few published resources. A CA-based turn-taking syllabus was therefore designed for learners on the cusp of entering certificate level programmes at a NZ tertiary institution. This involves both explicit teaching of relevant language features and micro-skills, and sensitization to how these are deployed together in talk. A number of pedagogical activities were then developed and have been trialed with classes over four semesters, with data being collected through testing, observation and reflective journals. This talk presents some of the salient findings revealing that non-mastery of certain micro-skills is closely implicated in turn-taking difficulties and appears to be related to participants’ source-language backgrounds; a pedagogical focus on these skills led to substantial improvement over one 18-week semester. The talk concludes with a discussion of how insights from CA can be applied to second language pedagogy.

Item Type:Paper presented at a conference, workshop, or other event which was not published in the proceedings
Keywords that describe the item:conversation analysis, second langugage learners, turn-taking
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions:Schools > Centre for Languages
ID Code:3427
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Deposited On:14 Dec 2014 22:13
Last Modified:09 Jan 2017 02:40

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