Simona Pekarek-Doehler
University of Neuchâtel

The development of L2 interactional competence over time

Throughout the past decades, an extensive body of research has provided important insights into the development of a second language (L2) over time. Yet, to date, little is known about how peoples’ capacity to engage in specifically oral communicative interaction is affected in their L2, nor how their ability to participate in such interaction evolves over time. It is only recently that we witness a growing body of longitudinal conversational analytic (CA) research addressing exactly this issue (see e.g. Hellermann 2008, and some of the papers collected in Hall et al. 2011): How do second language speakers use the linguistic resources at their disposal to accomplish social actions in coordination with others? What does the development of interactional competence in an L2 consist of? Is interactional competence simply transferred from the L1 to the L2 or is it re-elaborated in the L2?

In this paper, I address these questions by critically reviewing the empirical evidence provided by existing CA work (including my own work) on L2 interactional development as regards the most central organizational principles of social interaction: turn-taking organization, sequence organization, repair organization, and preference organization. I argue that existing findings support an understanding of the development of L2 interactional competence as involving a diversification of members’ ‘methods’ (in the ethnomethodological sense of the term) for accomplishing social interaction, which ensues in speakers’ growing ability to recipient design talk and to deploy context-sensitive conduct, i.e. conduct that is tailored to the local circumstantial details of the interaction. Because social interaction is based on a minute synchronization and coordination of mutual conduct, this precise tailoring of speakers’ actions to the local circumstantial details of the ongoing course of action and to co-participants’ current expectations, needs and states of knowledge, represents the very essence of interactional competence.

Johannes Wagner
University of Southern Denmark

Creating social infrastructures for second language learning in the wild

When newcomers have arrived in a new society, the new language plays an immediate role in their everyday lives. As a minimum, newcomers are overhearers of and eavesdroppers to spoken and written encounters in public life, education, or at workplaces and in the media. There exist ample daily opportunities for contact with the second language. In this way, the second language has a paramount presence in the learners’ daily lives even before they have acquired the nuts and bolts for using it actively.

When seated in classrooms, newcomers experience radically different opportunities for participation compared to those experienced in situations outside, since the conditions for interacting are rather different. Classroom activities are usually well ordered, based on written material and performed sitting on chairs at tables while language ‘in the wild’ happens in a chaotic, fully embodied environment of which the learners need to make sense of.

The paper discusses theories to understand and practices to promote the use of a second language outside of classrooms. Are these ‘wild’ language contacts useful in the light of learning theories? And if they are – how can they be practically supported? The paper discusses models for second language acquisition that may underpin changes in the division of labor between the classroom and everyday second language life.


Numa Markee
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign    

Teachers’ instructions: Toward a collections-based, comparative research agenda in classroom conversation analysis

In this paper, I lay out the rationale for a collections-based, comparative research agenda that is designed to understand how teachers of various second/foreign languages do classroom instructions. Having provided this rationale and considered its strengths and weaknesses, I then provide an updated empirical analysis of how ESL/EFL teachers at different institutions, in different countries and, indeed, in different decades, consistently deploy a tightly organized nexus of interrelated social actions, practices, and pragmatic/grammatical resources to organize impending classroom activity. Having demonstrated the power of the methodology with these base-line ESL/EFL materials, I then suggest how the same methodology might be used to investigate: 1)  how teachers give instructions in other languages, beginning with French and Italian as a second/foreign language data; and 2) how other mini speech events that are omnipresent in classroom talk are organized.  Finally, I summarize the potential applications of this research agenda for empirically grounded discussions of curriculum design and methodology issues in teacher education and training programs for pre- and in-service teachers.