‘What is Stoyr-Steruh Type?’: Knowledge Asymmetry, Intersubjectivity, and Learning Opportunities in Conversation-for-Learning

‘What is Stoyr-Steruh Type?’: Knowledge Asymmetry, Intersubjectivity, and Learning... Abstract Conversation-for-learning (Kasper and Kim 2015) is a pedagogical arrangement set up with a view to maximizing the potential benefit of interaction for language learning. As participants for conversation-for-learning are recruited for their relative expertise in the target languages, the talk is often characterized by asymmetries in knowledge and language expertise. Based on sequential analysis of how the knowledge asymmetries are brought to the fore of interaction and how they are subsequently dealt with, the current study illustrates how learning opportunities are generated in conversation-for-learning, that is, by collaborative achievement of definition sequences (Markee 1994). Interaction provides an observable space where interactional practices deployed by the participants to achieve and maintain intersubjectivity can be observed and appropriated. The study contributes to our understanding of language learning as a social practice as it shows that the methods and devices that underlie and enable human sociality constitute the cornerstones of what makes language learning happen in interaction. 1. INTRODUCTION Since Firth and Wagner’s (1997) call for a reconceptualization of second language acquisition (SLA) research nearly two decades ago, studies that draw on more socially oriented frameworks have come to occupy a significant place in second language learning/acquisition research literature (Firth and Wagner 2007; Atkinson 2011). One tenet that characterizes this body of studies is an agreement that L2 learning is inseparable from L2 use. This understanding of the inseparability of L2 use and L2 learning has been extended beyond a theoretical position, as exemplified by an attempt to combine Usage Based Linguistics and Conversation Analysis (CA; Eskildsen 2011, 2012; Eskildsen et al. 2015), pedagogical arrangements such as conversation-for-learning (henceforth CfL; Kasper and Kim 2015), and an effort to link language encounters ‘in the wild’ back to the language classroom (Wagner 2015). As Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir (2017) argue, what L2 learners/users need is the ability to ‘navigate competently in locally contextualized settings, socially and linguistically’ (p. 18). In view of the recent argument that the world is too chaotic and unpredictable to be modeled in tasks through expectations (Wagner 2015, 2016), such pedagogical arrangements as CfL can provide one alternative that falls between the two extremes of the limited experience that classroom environment can afford and interaction ‘in the wild’ in that it provides interactional opportunities which more closely resemble real-life social encounters, though still sheltered. However, it has not been empirically shown yet whether or how much the interactions in these settings closely resemble real-life encounters and at the same time, provide language learning opportunities. Compared to the history of the research on classroom discourse from a CA perspective (Markee 2004; Seedhouse 2004; Hellermann 2006; Walsh 2006; Hellermann 2007; Pekarek Doehler and Ziegler 2007; Hellermann 2008; Markee 2008; Waring 2008; Hellermann and Cole 2009; Waring 2009; Walsh 2011; Sert and Walsh 2012; Park 2013; Sert 2013; Waring 2013; Markee 2015; Pekarek Doehler 2015; Sert 2015), it is relatively recently that CfL outside of classrooms has established itself as an independent genre of discourse (Hauser 2008; Kasper and Kim 2015). As a pedagogic activity under the guise of free conversation, CfL constitutes a hybrid genre. It constitutes one type of social encounter while arranged with a clear pedagogical purpose. Participants’ differing orientations at different interactional moments shape the moment-by-moment talk into a different activity (Kasper 2004). In addition, the fact that the participants are recruited for their relative expertise in the target languages, and that they are often from different cultural backgrounds, make CfL a site where knowledge asymmetries (both linguistic and cultural) are distinctively salient.1 The present study, following the CA-for-SLA strand within socially oriented approaches to SLA (Gardner 2008; Markee 2008), sets out to join the effort to shed new light on our understanding of the nature of language learning by examining the finest details of talk in CfL. More specifically, the study aims to investigate what types of learning opportunities are afforded in the talk of CfL and how they are sequentially generated and oriented to by the participants. Drawing on insights provided by previous CA-for-SLA studies that have shown ‘how the learning of L2 resources is inextricably linked with people’s methods of achieving intersubjectivity in social practices’ (Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir 2017: 1), the current study aims to contribute to our understanding of language learning by examining the methods whereby participants work to achieve intersubjectivity—especially where there are apparent asymmetries in knowledge and language expertise. By looking at how knowledge asymmetry is played out and managed in CfL and where it leads to, the main part of the article focuses on sequential organization of knowledge check sequences: how explicit knowledge checks are occasioned, what sequential trajectories they generate, and ultimately, whether and how those subsequent sequential environments provide opportunities for learning. The latter part of the article is devoted to discussing learning opportunities afforded via sequential environments of CfL, and in so doing, a slightly different type of learning opportunity made use of by the L2 speaker is considered as well, that is, appropriation sequences where the L2 speaker appropriates interactional resources such as a lexical phrase used by his interlocutors for his own use. I conclude the article with a discussion on how learning opportunities illustrated in this article help to further our understanding of language learning as social practice as it occurs in interaction via socially distributed interactional practices. 2. CA STUDIES ON L2 INTERACTION Recently, there has emerged a rapidly growing body of research that examines interaction involving L2 speakers from a CA perspective, which reflects the accumulating scholarship that explores the potential of CA to contribute to our understanding of SLA. Three distinctive strands can be identified. One strand attempts to show how learning is accomplished as a social action in interaction as participants orient to it as such (Brouwer 2003; Lee 2010; Sahlström 2011; Theodórsdóttir 2011a; Theodórsdóttir 2011b). The second strand can be characterized as an effort to show learning as changes over time. One of the most prominent lines of research under this theme concerns the development of L2 speakers’ interactional and constructional competence over time (Brouwer and Wagner 2004; Hellermann 2007, 2008; Markee 2008; Ishida 2009; Eskildsen 2011, 2012; Hall et al. 2011; Hauser 2013; Eskildsen et al. 2015; Pekarek Doehler and Pochon-Berger 2015). Different aspects of interactional competence such as opening (Hellermann 2007), closing (Hellermann and Cole 2009), storytelling (Lee and Hellermann 2014), story-recipiency (Kim 2016), doing disagreement (Pekarek Doehler and Pochon-Berger 2011), recipient design of formulations (Nguyen 2011), and topic-initiation (Ishida 2017; Kim 2017) have been investigated. The remaining strand is concerned with describing the interactional architecture of pedagogical settings such as classrooms (Seedhouse 2004; Lee 2006; Pekarek Doehler and Ziegler 2007; Lee 2013), writing tutorials (Koshik 2002; Young 2007; Koshik 2010), and other settings (Kurhila 2006; Lilja 2014). In describing the interactional architecture of talk in instructional and non-instructional settings which include L2 speakers, this line of research often shows how learning happens contingently in interaction (Kim 2012; Lilja 2014; Eskildsen and Wagner 2015). 2.1 Conversation-for-learning Designed to provide language learners with opportunities that cannot be afforded in traditional classrooms, CfL has established itself as one particular type of pedagogical genre, as can be seen in the growing body of literature that examines interaction in CfL (Hauser 2003; Mori 2003; Hauser 2005a; Hauser 2005b; Hauser 2008; Kim 2009; Markee and Seo 2009; Kim 2012; Kivik 2012; Hauser 2013; Nao 2013; Kasper and Kim 2015; Nao 2015). The fact that the talk is set up for the purpose of language learning and practice and that the participants are recruited for their complementary expertise in the target language make CfL one type of institutional talk (Heritage 2005; Hauser 2008). On the other hand, in contrast to classroom interaction, where the overall pattern of Initiation-Response-Feedback (IRF) tends to be strongly observed (Sinclair and Coulthard 1975; Waring 2008; cf. see Waring 2009 for how IRF pattern is transformed by learner agency), there is no pre-allocation of turn types in CfL (c.f. Nao 2013). Beyond the institutional role of initially setting up the meeting, most of the time, participants are given no instruction beyond ‘just talk’ and the flexible format enables the talk to flow like casual conversation. The asymmetry in language expertise is one omni-relevant feature to be oriented to by CfL participants (Hauser 2003; Hosoda 2006). In addition to asymmetries in language expertise, there tends to be a steeper gradient in shared knowledge among CfL participants than in typical casual conversations among friends or colleagues (Enfield 2006). In contrast to conversations that involve family members and close friends, where interactants have roughly stable and good estimates of shared knowledge bases with each other, the shared knowledge base in CfL has to be established over the course of an interaction and can turn out to vary greatly. The first-time encounter (Svennevig 1999) requires quite a bit of exploratory epistemic work for participants to ascertain each other's knowledge status regarding potential topics (Maynard and Zimmerman 1984; Svennevig 1999; Nao 2015). They often sort out each other according to cultural membership categories such as ‘Japanese’ and ‘American’ and use this categorization as a resource for topic initiation (Mori 2003; Nao 2015). 3. ORIENTATION TO KNOWLEDGE ASYMMETRY IN INTERACTION Knowledge asymmetries among participants always exist whether in institutional interaction or in mundane conversation, even though those asymmetries are not always manifest at the surface of interaction. How knowledge asymmetries become manifest and dealt with in interaction have been examined both in L1 conversation and L2 conversation. In L1 conversation literature, how participants orient to knowledge asymmetries in first-time encounters in casual conversations (Drew 1991; Svennevig 1999), as well as institutional talk between professionals and lay clients (Kitzinger and Mandelbaum 2013), has been reported. Kitzinger and Mandelbaum (2013), for example, highlight how speakers’ selection or deselection of certain specialist vocabulary can be an act of identity, demonstrating speakers’ knowledge and presuming the interlocutor’s knowledge (or lack thereof) in particular territories of expertise. In L2 interaction research, Hosoda (2006) has shown how differential language expertise of participants is oriented to as relevant in repair sequences in casual L1-L2 conversations. More recently, Lilja (2014) has demonstrated how the repair practice of partial repetition by a second language speaker is treated as indicating that the speaker has a problem understanding a lexical item, which suggests that orientation to linguistic asymmetry is operative as one resource for action formation and recognition (Heritage 2012b). Another type of interactional sequence which seems to constitute a central site where participants’ language expertise is clearly oriented to as relevant is word search sequences (Brouwer 2003; Koshik and Seo 2012). By inviting and seeking help in doing word searches, the speaker orients to the language expertise of the interlocutors. Orientation to participants’ language expertise is also observed in sequences where participants work on establishing initial reference (Svennevig 2010; Kim 2012). Kim (2012) illustrates how learning opportunities are generated through built-in design features of interaction such as preference for the use of name over recognitional description. The current study reports on learning opportunities contingently generated in CfL by examining knowledge check sequences. The data used for the study consist of 14 hours of audio recordings of CfL in which two Korean adolescent boys, Chungho and Jinho, who are brothers, met with an American graduate student, Tom, every two weeks over the course of nine months for the ostensible purpose of language learning and practice. Yumi, who was helping with the recording, sometimes joined in conversation. They met in a variety of places such as a coffee shop, a fast food restaurant, or at someone’s residence. One meeting lasted approximately one hour and they had 13 sessions in all, which amounted to 14 hours of audio recording. 4. THE STUDY 4.1 Knowledge check questions to introduce a new topic As previously stated, the sequential environments where potential knowledge asymmetries are manifest and dealt with at the surface of interaction were identified as a focus of analysis, which in turn led to examining the use of the knowledge check question ‘do you know what X is?’ or ‘do you know X?’. A collection was made of the excerpts that include knowledge check questions, and CA transcriptions were made of the entire collection. Two main functions were identified for the use of the knowledge check question: (i) Introducing a new topic at topic-initial position and (ii) checking the recipient’s knowledge of the lexical item at non-topic-initial positions. In a topic-initial environment, the form serves both functions—introducing a new topic and checking the recipient’s knowledge status regarding the potential topic. As one needs to know whether the interlocutor has some knowledge of the topic-to-be-introduced and how knowledgeable she/he is on the topic to diagnose the prospect of and design the talk on that topic with the particular interlocutor (recipient design), the topic-initiating move often takes the form of a knowledge check (Schegloff 2007). This is illustrated in Excerpt (1). Chungho, Jinho, and Tom are having dinner at a family restaurant. (1) Star Wars [May 8: 997–1012]As they are eating, rather long lapses of silence occasionally occur. After quite a long lapse into silence (line 997), Tom initiates a new topic by asking the two boys whether they know about the movie Star Wars. After Chungho provides an affirmative answer, Tom asks a further question that is designed to ascertain their knowledge status in a more fine-grained measure (lines 1001 and 1004), eliciting Chungho’s description of his knowledge concerning Star Wars, which in turn, effectively serves to launch the new topic. The sequence showcases the use of the knowledge check question format as a means of introducing a new topic, though the question is in a slightly different form, ‘do you guys know about …?’.2 Unlike other institutional talk, where participants have a particular purpose for interacting with each other, in CfL, one of the tasks is to find what to talk about. A great deal of sequential work is devoted to generating and launching a new topic. For this, estimating each other’s knowledge status is essential. When initiating a new topic, ascertaining the recipient’s knowledge status vis-à-vis the to-be-introduced topic seems to be a prerequisite. 4.2 Knowledge check question occasioned from the prior sequence When the knowledge check question was found in non-topic-initial positions, it was either occasioned from the prior sequence or adopted prospectively. I first examine the instances where the knowledge check question is occasioned from the prior sequence. In Excerpt (2), Tom, Chungho, and Jinho are sitting at an outdoor table of a coffee shop. Each of them has just sat down at the table with the drinks that they had ordered for themselves. Chungho’s drink is a strawberry soda. (2) Carbonation [Oct 17: 24–38]Tom asks whether Chungho’s drink is carbonated (line 29) and Chungho’s answer is ambiguous—unclear whether he doesn’t know if his drink is carbonated or he has not understood the previous turn. Given that it is Chungho’s drink that he ordered himself and is currently drinking, the latter is more likely to be the case. Chungho’s no-knowledge claim occasions the knowledge check question by Tom (line 33), which indicates the speaker’s orientation to his interlocutor as a second language learner. With no immediate answer forthcoming (line 34), Tom adds a description of what carbonation is (line 35). As he is about to add another description (line 37), Chungho claims his understanding (Koole 2010), with ‘ah’ (line 38), one variant of a change-of-state token (Heritage 1984). Excerpt (2) shows that when there seemed to be a danger that intersubjectivity might be put at risk, the L1 speaker issued the knowledge check question, which served to identify the source of the problem that impeded intersubjectivity at the moment. The question also elicited definition talk (Markee 1994) of the trouble source, which served to restore intersubjectivity and in so doing, simultaneously provided a learning opportunity. The lexical item, ‘carbonated’, initially opaque to the L2 speaker becomes unpacked, that is, ‘like the bubbles in the water’ and ‘like soda’. Chungho’s claim of understanding ‘ah’ (line 38) marks the moment of restored intersubjectivity as he marks his changed knowing state in the observable space of interaction. Another sequential environment, though not frequently found, that occasioned a knowledge check in the current data was a delay in providing a second pair part, as can be seen in the following excerpt. Prior to the excerpt, Chungho was talking about his experience of archery in his P.E. class at school. (3) Darts [Feb 27: 395–410]At line 397, Tom is introducing a new topic by asking the two boys whether they have played darts before,3 which constitutes a stepwise topic transition (Jefferson 1984). After a 1.3 s pause, Chungho is about to begin his turn, which is marked with a few tokens of hesitation markers (line 399). This pause and the hesitation markers are oriented to by Tom as a possible lack of lexical knowledge on the part of the two boys, which occasions a knowledge check question (line 400). As it turns out, both of the boys know what darts is. However, the delay in response is oriented to as a possible moment of non-understanding, which occasions a knowledge check question from the L1 speaker. In conversations that involve L2 speakers, pauses and delays within and between turns are quite common (Wong 2000, 2004) and they are not always oriented to as signaling dispreferred responses. Excerpt (3) illustrates a case where the L1 speaker orients to pauses and delays in response as possibly caused by the potential lack of lexical knowledge on the part of the recipient. The sequence demonstrates that asymmetries in language knowledge are oriented to as an omni-relevant source of problems in interaction. The third type of sequence that occasioned a knowledge check question at non-topic-initial position was other-initiation of repair by the L2 speaker. Other-initiation of repair can be used to implement a range of different actions (Hayashi et al. 2013; Robinson 2013; Lilja 2014) and can be implemented via different types of formats, which include open class repair initiators (Drew 1997; Robinson 2006), wh-words, partial repetition (Lilja 2014), partial repetition plus wh-word, and candidate understandings (Sidnell 2010; Hayashi et al. 2013; Kitzinger 2013). In the current data, one instance was found where the knowledge check question is occasioned after the L2 speaker’s initiation of repair via an open-class repair initiator. In the following excerpt, Chungho and Tom are talking about horror movies and Chungho is describing one scene from the movie Thirteen Ghosts. (4) Gory [Apri 17: 935–964]Tom’s assessment of the particular scene they were talking about (line 945) is followed by Chungho’s assessment (line 947). This elicits Tom’s laughter and another assessment (just gory), which delivers a weakly disaffiliative stance to Chungho’s strong negative assessment (I hate that, in line 947). After a 1 s pause, however, Chungho initiates repair using the format of open-class repair initiator.4 This repair initiation is subject to two possible interpretations: (i) ‘you really think so?’ (K+ repair initiation action5) (Robinson 2013) and (ii) ‘I have a problem hearing or understanding’ (K− repair initiation action) (Robinson 2013). However, the speaker of the trouble source turn orients to the possibility that the recipient lacks the lexical knowledge of the adjective ‘gory’ (thus, K− repair initiation action) and launches a knowledge check question (you know the word gory? in line 953). Chungho’s negative answer occasions definition talk (Markee 1994) of the word ‘gory’ (lines 956 and 957: a lot of blood and violence ’n that kind of thing). Chungho responds to this by demonstrating his understanding of the word with an example (line 959). This serves to mark the moment of restored intersubjectivity as well as evidence of vocabulary learning on Chungho’s part. In excerpt (4), again, upon encountering the sign of non-understanding (here realized by repair initiation), the knowledge check question is issued and serves to begin the work of restoring mutual understanding, and in so doing, vocabulary learning is achieved. 4.3 Prospective use of knowledge check In addition to being occasioned from the prior sequence, the knowledge check question was also observed to be used prospectively, which shows the speaker’s prospective estimate of the recipient’s knowledge status regarding the target reference. Excerpt (5) illustrates this. (5) Hide and seek [Feb 13: 1324–1334]As the speaker is about to deliver an example of the games that he used to play with his brothers (like uh, in line 1333), a micro second pause occurs and the syntactic construction underway thus far is aborted. Instead, a new syntactic construction (do you guys know …) is adopted to introduce the name of the game (lines 1333 and 1334). With the recipient's claim of recognition, however, the side sequence is soon closed. By delivering the target reference item in a knowledge check question, the speaker demonstrates his orientation to the recipient's potential lack of lexical knowledge regarding the name of the game. As what one knows and does not know constitutes an important part of one’s identity/membership (Heritage 2012b), making an estimate on the other’s knowledge status also projects the speaker’s perception of the recipient’s identity/membership. This, in turn, can be accepted or resisted (Kitzinger and Mandelbaum 2013). The speaker can choose to ascertain a recipient’s knowledge status, with minimum disruption to sequence progressivity, using try-marking 6 (Sacks and Schegloff 1979) instead of a full-blown question, as seen in Excerpt (6). (6) Tag [Feb 13: 1324–1334]Excerpt (6) is a continuation of Excerpt (5). In listing what games he used to play with his brothers when he was young, Tom delivers the name of another game with try-marking (line 1338), thus providing a space for the recipient to indicate his knowledge status. Note that the first ‘ta:g¿’ is delivered in a rising intonation followed by a brief pause, which serves to check the recipient’s recognition. With no vocal response provided during the subsequent 1.1 second pause,7 the speaker ascertains that the recipient does not know what tag is and definition talk is generated 8 (you have to touch the person). We do not see any change-of-state token or other way of indicating his recognition from Chungho immediately following the definition talk this time, but right after the subsequent instance of try-marking (or like freeze tag? in line 1340–1341), and in overlap with the ensuing knowledge check question (d’ you know that? in line 1340), the recipient indicates his recognition with an affirmative token uttered in laughter (line 1342). 4.4 Other-initiation of repair: What is X? In the preceding section, knowledge check questions at non-topic-initial positions were examined—both those occasioned by what had transpired in the prior sequences and those used prospectively, that is, demonstrating the speaker’s prospective estimate of the recipient’s knowledge status. In both cases, these knowledge check questions conveyed the speaker’s orientation to the possibility that the recipient might lack the lexical knowledge of the target reference. In the latter case, the question served to preempt other initiation of repair (Svennevig 2010). This becomes clear when the excerpts are compared to a case where the speaker does not take the initiative to check the recipient’s knowledge status regarding a potentially problematic reference, and the recipient has to initiate repair, as in Excerpt (7) below. In Excerpt (7), Chungho and Tom are talking about the North–South Korea relationship, which could be a sensitive topic. (7) Stereotype [Oct 17: 1087–1103]Prior to the excerpt, Tom and Chungho were talking about Korean boys’ obligation of military service. The topic made a stepwise transition to the North and South Korea relationship. Now Tom is inquiring about Chungho’s views on North Koreans. Tom’s topic-initiating inquiry starts with a rather broadly formulated wh-question (line 1087). The lack of immediate response prompts Tom to issue a subsequent question that takes a more specific yes–no interrogative form (lines 1089). Another response gap in line 1090 prompts a third version of the question, which serves to facilitate soliciting an answer (Gardner 2004; Kasper and Ross 2007). As a 0.6-s pause ensues, Tom provides an increment ‘South Korean?’ orienting to the possibility that the comprehension problem might lie in locating the reference of ‘people’ in his previous turn. Chungho’s other initiation of repair, ‘What is stoyr-steruh type?’ in line 1095, however, reveals that the trouble source lies in the lexical item ‘stereotype’. Note that Chungho shows a slight difficulty in pronouncing the target word (line 1095). Chungho’s initiation of repair clearly identifies the trouble source and the nature of the problem (the meaning of the word). In terms of sequential structure, it constitutes a mirror image of a knowledge check question (i.e. compare ‘Do you know what X is?’ asked by the speaker of the potential trouble source with ‘What is X?’ asked by the recipient of the potential trouble source lexicon). Here, the L2 speaker’s question of ‘What is stoyr-steruh type?’ elicits definition sequences (line 1097–1098) (Markee 1994), while in Excerpt (4) and (6), the L1 speaker’s preemptive knowledge check elicits a definition sequence. In response to Tom’s definition of the word (‘some ideas about all North Koreans’), Chungho checks his understanding by proffering a possible synonym (prejudice). This engenders a few more turns devoted to clarifying a more nuanced meaning of the word as Tom attempts to withdraw a possibly negative connotation implied in his prior questions (‘it doesn’t have to be: doesn’t have to be negative’). Excerpt (7) presents a case in which a problem in achieving intersubjectivity is revealed by the L2 speaker’s other initiation of repair, and intersubjectivity is restored through the subsequently provided definition talk. Furthermore, the L2 speaker’s learning of the word ‘stereotype’ took place simultaneously while he, a South Korean adolescent boy, and Tom, an American adult, were working out the contextual meaning of each other’s utterances in local talk. This excerpt shows the multi-layered nature of interaction as a site where language learning takes place as part of participants’ meaning negotiation practice. 4.5 Learning opportunities afforded in interaction Apart from learning opportunities generated by explicit knowledge check and subsequent definition sequences, the interactional space of CfL seems to provide various types of learning opportunities. One of them is found in the L2 speaker’s behavior of appropriating the L1 speaker’s naming practice. Consider the following excerpt. (8) You’re making a deal? [Mar 13: 621–638]Prior to Excerpt (8), Jinho, the younger brother was engaged in a bit of horseplay, blowing spitballs toward Chungho and his McDonald’s food, which seemed to disturb Chungho. In line 621, Chungho, in Korean, tells him to stop while offering one french fry to Jinho, who has already finished his portion. Tom, who has no knowledge of Korean and was watching the interaction between the two boys, amused, offers his observation of the scene as ‘making a deal’ (line 625) along with his analysis of the details of the deal (‘if you give me a french fry, I won’t spit anything at you’). All three of them laugh at some point and the sequence is concluded by a series of Tom’s assessments, ‘it’s a good deal’ in line 634 and ‘bribery’ in line 638. Roughly 10 minutes later, Chungho uses the same expression to describe a similar situation. (9) Another deal [Mar 13: 907–933]With Jinho’s continued horseplay, Chungho, in Korean, keeps telling his brother to stop what he is doing (line 907), suggests that he will give Jinho all of his food, and begs him to stop (line 911). In response to this, Jinho denies that he was doing anything disruptive (line 912). With forced laughter from Chungho and suppressed laughter from both Jinho and Tom, Tom continues telling his experience of having been to the Great Wall of China as he is showing a picture of the Great Wall found in his wallet (line 916–917). Subsequent to the sound of putting down a teacup on the plate, Chungho says, ‘another deal’, which is followed by Tom’s parallel and slightly expanded turn, ‘another deal’s for the soda’. It is inferred that Chungho now gave his soda to Jinho to stop him doing what he was doing. He named his action using the expression used by Tom some 10 minutes earlier. This is an example of how a participant in conversation ‘appropriates’ (Pallotti 2001, 2002) a linguistic expression used by another party to fit his/her own communicative purpose. By borrowing the expression used by Tom to define what is currently going on, Chungho expands his communicative repertoire. Observing interactional practices deployed by other participants and using them to serve one’s own communicative purposes is a phenomenon observed not only in CfL (cf. Eskildsen and Wagner 2015), but also in much of the mundane conversation that we engage in every day. This is what is referred to as ‘appropriation’, as developed in the Bakhtinian tradition (Bakhtin 1981; Wertsch 1998)—the act of using the words of others and making them our own by adjusting the form/content according to our communicative intent. This showcases the very practice whereby participants in interaction learn a language by using it. The practice of ‘appropriation’ illustrates how tightly interwoven language learning and use are. By borrowing the expression to aptly describe what he was doing, Chungho shows not only his grasp of the linguistic expression, and thus expands his repertoire of interactional resources, but also achieves some kind of cohesion in the current interaction (Pallotti 2002). Embedded in interactional practice, interactional resources such as words and fixed expressions are observable and circulated in conversation. Parties in interaction observe the usage and incorporate them into their own practice. However, it should be noted that not all lexical items used in the interlocutor’s turns make themselves readily available for the L2 speaker to appropriate. Consider the following excerpt.9 In line 888 of Excerpt (10), Chungho is displaying difficulty in producing the word ‘blister’ as he was talking about his experience of playing video games to the extent of being addicted and experiencing physical repercussions. (10) Blister [Jan 16: 885–896]In line 888, Chungho is providing an account of why he had to shout to himself, saying that if he played a video game ever again, he would call himself a lunatic. The turn starts with a connective ‘cuz’, which projects an upcoming account. Note that there is a one second pause after ‘I have’ and the pause is followed by a word search marker, ‘I don’t know the (.) word, (0.3) the exact word, but’. In a slight overlap with Chungho’s current turn (line 889), Yumi provides a candidate solution (blister) (line 890). With no response immediately provided (line 891), Yumi provides a Korean translation of the word ‘blister’, ‘mulcip’ (line 892), which is then hearable as ‘you want to say mulcip’. Subsequent to Chungho’s confirmation (line 893), Yumi repeats the word again (line 894), and this time, it is incorporated in his subsequent turn (line 895). What is noteworthy is that the word ‘blister’ had been used twice in Tom’s nearby preceding turns, as can be seen in Excerpt (10)-1 below. (10)-1 Blister I [Jan 16: 851–864]In describing his dormitory life in college, Tom mentions ‘blister’ (line 854), and Chungho’s question ‘here?’ in line 856 seems to suggest that he has understood what ‘blisters’ means as it is hearable as ‘you used to get blisters here?’. The word appears again a few lines later in Tom’s turn (line 863), in the context of describing too much video game play. It is only two minutes after this that Excerpt (10) appears, where Chungho displays difficulty in producing the word when it becomes his turn to describe a similar experience of his. These two excerpts show that not all language items used in the interlocutor’s turns are readily available for the learner to incorporate in his speech even though the learner has understood it when it was used. Having understood the meaning of a new lexical item in one local context does not necessarily mean that the learner is able to use it productively for his own use (Eskildsen and Wagner 2015). Complete learning of a new vocabulary item might occur over an extended period of time. On the other hand, the knowledge check question, by singling out the target lexical item and making it an object of inquiry, incidentally serves the pedagogical function of drawing the L2 learner’s attention to the lexical item. 5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Interaction provides a shared and observable cognitive space where the knowledge statuses of the participants are constantly revealed, made observable, and updated. By asking a question, parties-in-interaction may show themselves to be without knowledge, while by issuing a knowledge check question, the speaker attempts to ascertain the other party’s knowledge status. Here, this knowledge status is at both the macro and micro level, that is, the level of topic knowledge as well as language knowledge (vocabulary). When the asymmetry in knowledge is revealed and brought to the fore of interaction by a sequential move, it is routinely followed up by a move to address the revealed knowledge asymmetry such as definition talk (Markee 1994). Preemptively used knowledge check questions show the speaker’s orientation to the potential lack of knowledge on the part of the recipient and serve as a preemptive device for other initiation of repair. Examining the sequential environment for ‘Do you know what X is?’ as it occurs in CfL reveals that there is a strong orientation to language knowledge asymmetry, and thus to the possible breakdown of intersubjectivity in CfL. The question shows participants’ concern for maintaining intersubjectivity as well as orientation to the pedagogic purpose of the talk. It has been shown that the knowledge check practice provides a sequential environment which is particularly conducive for language learning by generating definition talk (Markee 1994). For example, ‘bubbles in the water’ was provided for the initial trouble source ‘carbonated’ in Excerpt (2); ‘a lot of blood and violence’ for ‘gory’ in Excerpt (4); ‘you have to touch the person’ for ‘tag’ in Excerpt (6); ‘some ideas about all North Koreans’ for ‘stereotype’ in Excerpt (7). The sequence can be expanded as the recipient of the definition talk might claim his understanding via the change-of-state token ‘oh’ (Excerpt (2)) or try to check his understanding by offering an example (e.g. ‘Like a bathtub filled with all blood?’ as in Excerpt (4)) or by proffering a synonym (‘prejudice’ as in Excerpt (7)), which, in turn, is subject to further negotiation of meaning as we have seen in Excerpt (7). Definition talk is an occasioned occurrence that arises as participants work on achieving intersubjectivity and language learning takes place as a by-product as participants strive to achieve mutual understanding while they engage in co-constructed sense-making activity. The sequential environment where Chungho learns the meaning of the word ‘stereotype’ is the same site where participants reflect on and modify the meaning of their turns based on other participants’ responses. In this article, another type of learning opportunity afforded in interaction was also considered, that is, participants’ practice of ‘appropriation’ (Pallotti 2002). Interaction provides a site where other participants’ interactional practices are publicly observable. Learners can observe other participants’ interactional practices as they engage in meaning making activities and can deploy the practice to fit their own communicative needs. The process of language learning unavoidably involves taking over words and expressions used by others and using them for one’s own communicative needs (Bakhtin 1981; Wertsch 1998). Furthermore, as discussed by Eskildsen and Wagner (2015), this process of picking up new language items from the environment and ‘learning to control [the] new semiotic resources’ (p. 291) seems to take place over an extended period of time. Chungho was able to comprehend the lexical item ‘blister’ in the context of Tom’s storytelling of too much playing of video games, but was not able to produce the word by himself when it became his turn to describe his experience, although this happened only two minutes after the lexical item was used by Tom. L2 vocabulary learning seems to be a slow and gradual process, which requires recurrent exposure and context for production. The data reviewed have shown that learning in interaction is not limited to negotiation of meaning (Pica 1991; Long 1996), which often begins with other initiation of repair. Parties-in-interaction are not merely responding to the other party’s sequential move. They proactively orient to the other party’s knowledge status, estimating and foreseeing potential difficulties in maintaining intersubjectivity, and make a sequential move to forestall the problem. While the observation concerning how comprehensible input is generated in interaction via negotiation of meaning provides useful insights, Long’s (1996) Interaction Hypothesis treats interaction as merely an input generator and does not give due consideration to participants’ agency and varied types of effort to maintain intersubjectivity (e.g. Eskildsen and Wagner 2015) by foreseeing a problem and preventing it. The common sense belief that interaction is a primary site where language learning takes place should be predicated on the understanding of how interaction is constantly driven by an effort to achieve and maintain mutual understanding. Knowledge check questions and definition talk that ensues them are interactional practices motivated by the preference for achieving intersubjectivity in talk-in-interaction (Sacks and Schegloff 1979). Learning happens while participants collaboratively strive to achieve mutual understanding as they estimate each other’s knowledge status and check if mutual understanding is not at risk moment-by-moment. The current study consolidates the findings of previous CA-SLA studies showing that interactional resources/methods used to solve interactional problems are exactly the resources that enable language learning (Lee 2010; Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir 2017). Methods deployed by parties-in-interaction to achieve and maintain intersubjectivity lie at the heart of what makes interaction a primordial site for language learning, which, in turn leads to the observation that the methods and devices that underlie and enable human sociality constitute the cornerstones of what makes language learning happen in interaction. As Kasper and Kim (2015) point out, CfL has been carried out in a wide variety of settings (e.g. a lounge with sofas and tables, vacant classrooms, fast food restaurants) and arrangements (e.g. with and without the presence of an L1 speaker, L2 speakers sharing the same L1, L2 speakers with different L1s). The current study examined one type of CfL and showed how the question ‘Do you know what X is?’ is deployed to serve the institutional goals of the interaction. Whether or not a similar practice is observed across CfL talk in other settings has yet to be examined. Finally, while the talk examined in the current study came from longitudinal data, the present analysis does not take advantage of the data’s longitudinal aspect. A fruitful avenue for future research with longitudinal CfL data would be to examine the use of knowledge check questioning (including try-marking) along the timeline to shed light on how participants’ common ground is updated and increased over time and how they keep track of the common ground as they build their relationships over time. Younhee Kim is an Assistant Professor at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests include Second Language Acquisition/Learning, Conversation Analysis, and pragmatics in a second language. Her current research involves examining bilingual children’s language acquisition from a conversation-analytic perspective. She has published in Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Teacher Education, and System, and has a few book chapters. Address for correspondence: English Language and Literature, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk 3-03-123, 637616, Singapore. <younheek@gmail.com> Notes Footnotes 1 Having said that, it should be noted that knowledge asymmetries are present in almost all interaction and constitute a driving force of interaction (Heritage 2012a). 2 In fact, question formats that check the interlocutor’s access to the potential topic such as ‘Have you ever seen …?’ or ‘Did you ever seen ...?’ were often found to introduce a new topic. 3 Another relevant piece of background information is that there was a dart board right next to the table where they were talking. The dart board is referred to as ‘like this one’ in line 408 by Tom. 4 ‘Yah?’ can be understood as a (Korean) honorific version of ‘huh?’. 5 Following Robinson (2013), I use the notation K± for the sake of notational convenience to refer to the speaker’s (here, repair initiator’s) knowledge status regarding the target reference. In other words, K+ repair initiation refers to the case in which the repair initiator has the knowledge of what the trouble source refers to, and thus the action that it implements is more likely to indicate the speaker’s disaffiliative stance or disbelief. 6 The use of try-marking is also observed in cases where the speaker indicates his/her uncertainty in pronouncing a target reference and thus seeks assistance/confirmation from the recipient as shown in the following excerpt. 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‘What is Stoyr-Steruh Type?’: Knowledge Asymmetry, Intersubjectivity, and Learning Opportunities in Conversation-for-Learning

Applied Linguistics , Volume Advance Article – Sep 27, 2017

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Abstract

Abstract Conversation-for-learning (Kasper and Kim 2015) is a pedagogical arrangement set up with a view to maximizing the potential benefit of interaction for language learning. As participants for conversation-for-learning are recruited for their relative expertise in the target languages, the talk is often characterized by asymmetries in knowledge and language expertise. Based on sequential analysis of how the knowledge asymmetries are brought to the fore of interaction and how they are subsequently dealt with, the current study illustrates how learning opportunities are generated in conversation-for-learning, that is, by collaborative achievement of definition sequences (Markee 1994). Interaction provides an observable space where interactional practices deployed by the participants to achieve and maintain intersubjectivity can be observed and appropriated. The study contributes to our understanding of language learning as a social practice as it shows that the methods and devices that underlie and enable human sociality constitute the cornerstones of what makes language learning happen in interaction. 1. INTRODUCTION Since Firth and Wagner’s (1997) call for a reconceptualization of second language acquisition (SLA) research nearly two decades ago, studies that draw on more socially oriented frameworks have come to occupy a significant place in second language learning/acquisition research literature (Firth and Wagner 2007; Atkinson 2011). One tenet that characterizes this body of studies is an agreement that L2 learning is inseparable from L2 use. This understanding of the inseparability of L2 use and L2 learning has been extended beyond a theoretical position, as exemplified by an attempt to combine Usage Based Linguistics and Conversation Analysis (CA; Eskildsen 2011, 2012; Eskildsen et al. 2015), pedagogical arrangements such as conversation-for-learning (henceforth CfL; Kasper and Kim 2015), and an effort to link language encounters ‘in the wild’ back to the language classroom (Wagner 2015). As Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir (2017) argue, what L2 learners/users need is the ability to ‘navigate competently in locally contextualized settings, socially and linguistically’ (p. 18). In view of the recent argument that the world is too chaotic and unpredictable to be modeled in tasks through expectations (Wagner 2015, 2016), such pedagogical arrangements as CfL can provide one alternative that falls between the two extremes of the limited experience that classroom environment can afford and interaction ‘in the wild’ in that it provides interactional opportunities which more closely resemble real-life social encounters, though still sheltered. However, it has not been empirically shown yet whether or how much the interactions in these settings closely resemble real-life encounters and at the same time, provide language learning opportunities. Compared to the history of the research on classroom discourse from a CA perspective (Markee 2004; Seedhouse 2004; Hellermann 2006; Walsh 2006; Hellermann 2007; Pekarek Doehler and Ziegler 2007; Hellermann 2008; Markee 2008; Waring 2008; Hellermann and Cole 2009; Waring 2009; Walsh 2011; Sert and Walsh 2012; Park 2013; Sert 2013; Waring 2013; Markee 2015; Pekarek Doehler 2015; Sert 2015), it is relatively recently that CfL outside of classrooms has established itself as an independent genre of discourse (Hauser 2008; Kasper and Kim 2015). As a pedagogic activity under the guise of free conversation, CfL constitutes a hybrid genre. It constitutes one type of social encounter while arranged with a clear pedagogical purpose. Participants’ differing orientations at different interactional moments shape the moment-by-moment talk into a different activity (Kasper 2004). In addition, the fact that the participants are recruited for their relative expertise in the target languages, and that they are often from different cultural backgrounds, make CfL a site where knowledge asymmetries (both linguistic and cultural) are distinctively salient.1 The present study, following the CA-for-SLA strand within socially oriented approaches to SLA (Gardner 2008; Markee 2008), sets out to join the effort to shed new light on our understanding of the nature of language learning by examining the finest details of talk in CfL. More specifically, the study aims to investigate what types of learning opportunities are afforded in the talk of CfL and how they are sequentially generated and oriented to by the participants. Drawing on insights provided by previous CA-for-SLA studies that have shown ‘how the learning of L2 resources is inextricably linked with people’s methods of achieving intersubjectivity in social practices’ (Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir 2017: 1), the current study aims to contribute to our understanding of language learning by examining the methods whereby participants work to achieve intersubjectivity—especially where there are apparent asymmetries in knowledge and language expertise. By looking at how knowledge asymmetry is played out and managed in CfL and where it leads to, the main part of the article focuses on sequential organization of knowledge check sequences: how explicit knowledge checks are occasioned, what sequential trajectories they generate, and ultimately, whether and how those subsequent sequential environments provide opportunities for learning. The latter part of the article is devoted to discussing learning opportunities afforded via sequential environments of CfL, and in so doing, a slightly different type of learning opportunity made use of by the L2 speaker is considered as well, that is, appropriation sequences where the L2 speaker appropriates interactional resources such as a lexical phrase used by his interlocutors for his own use. I conclude the article with a discussion on how learning opportunities illustrated in this article help to further our understanding of language learning as social practice as it occurs in interaction via socially distributed interactional practices. 2. CA STUDIES ON L2 INTERACTION Recently, there has emerged a rapidly growing body of research that examines interaction involving L2 speakers from a CA perspective, which reflects the accumulating scholarship that explores the potential of CA to contribute to our understanding of SLA. Three distinctive strands can be identified. One strand attempts to show how learning is accomplished as a social action in interaction as participants orient to it as such (Brouwer 2003; Lee 2010; Sahlström 2011; Theodórsdóttir 2011a; Theodórsdóttir 2011b). The second strand can be characterized as an effort to show learning as changes over time. One of the most prominent lines of research under this theme concerns the development of L2 speakers’ interactional and constructional competence over time (Brouwer and Wagner 2004; Hellermann 2007, 2008; Markee 2008; Ishida 2009; Eskildsen 2011, 2012; Hall et al. 2011; Hauser 2013; Eskildsen et al. 2015; Pekarek Doehler and Pochon-Berger 2015). Different aspects of interactional competence such as opening (Hellermann 2007), closing (Hellermann and Cole 2009), storytelling (Lee and Hellermann 2014), story-recipiency (Kim 2016), doing disagreement (Pekarek Doehler and Pochon-Berger 2011), recipient design of formulations (Nguyen 2011), and topic-initiation (Ishida 2017; Kim 2017) have been investigated. The remaining strand is concerned with describing the interactional architecture of pedagogical settings such as classrooms (Seedhouse 2004; Lee 2006; Pekarek Doehler and Ziegler 2007; Lee 2013), writing tutorials (Koshik 2002; Young 2007; Koshik 2010), and other settings (Kurhila 2006; Lilja 2014). In describing the interactional architecture of talk in instructional and non-instructional settings which include L2 speakers, this line of research often shows how learning happens contingently in interaction (Kim 2012; Lilja 2014; Eskildsen and Wagner 2015). 2.1 Conversation-for-learning Designed to provide language learners with opportunities that cannot be afforded in traditional classrooms, CfL has established itself as one particular type of pedagogical genre, as can be seen in the growing body of literature that examines interaction in CfL (Hauser 2003; Mori 2003; Hauser 2005a; Hauser 2005b; Hauser 2008; Kim 2009; Markee and Seo 2009; Kim 2012; Kivik 2012; Hauser 2013; Nao 2013; Kasper and Kim 2015; Nao 2015). The fact that the talk is set up for the purpose of language learning and practice and that the participants are recruited for their complementary expertise in the target language make CfL one type of institutional talk (Heritage 2005; Hauser 2008). On the other hand, in contrast to classroom interaction, where the overall pattern of Initiation-Response-Feedback (IRF) tends to be strongly observed (Sinclair and Coulthard 1975; Waring 2008; cf. see Waring 2009 for how IRF pattern is transformed by learner agency), there is no pre-allocation of turn types in CfL (c.f. Nao 2013). Beyond the institutional role of initially setting up the meeting, most of the time, participants are given no instruction beyond ‘just talk’ and the flexible format enables the talk to flow like casual conversation. The asymmetry in language expertise is one omni-relevant feature to be oriented to by CfL participants (Hauser 2003; Hosoda 2006). In addition to asymmetries in language expertise, there tends to be a steeper gradient in shared knowledge among CfL participants than in typical casual conversations among friends or colleagues (Enfield 2006). In contrast to conversations that involve family members and close friends, where interactants have roughly stable and good estimates of shared knowledge bases with each other, the shared knowledge base in CfL has to be established over the course of an interaction and can turn out to vary greatly. The first-time encounter (Svennevig 1999) requires quite a bit of exploratory epistemic work for participants to ascertain each other's knowledge status regarding potential topics (Maynard and Zimmerman 1984; Svennevig 1999; Nao 2015). They often sort out each other according to cultural membership categories such as ‘Japanese’ and ‘American’ and use this categorization as a resource for topic initiation (Mori 2003; Nao 2015). 3. ORIENTATION TO KNOWLEDGE ASYMMETRY IN INTERACTION Knowledge asymmetries among participants always exist whether in institutional interaction or in mundane conversation, even though those asymmetries are not always manifest at the surface of interaction. How knowledge asymmetries become manifest and dealt with in interaction have been examined both in L1 conversation and L2 conversation. In L1 conversation literature, how participants orient to knowledge asymmetries in first-time encounters in casual conversations (Drew 1991; Svennevig 1999), as well as institutional talk between professionals and lay clients (Kitzinger and Mandelbaum 2013), has been reported. Kitzinger and Mandelbaum (2013), for example, highlight how speakers’ selection or deselection of certain specialist vocabulary can be an act of identity, demonstrating speakers’ knowledge and presuming the interlocutor’s knowledge (or lack thereof) in particular territories of expertise. In L2 interaction research, Hosoda (2006) has shown how differential language expertise of participants is oriented to as relevant in repair sequences in casual L1-L2 conversations. More recently, Lilja (2014) has demonstrated how the repair practice of partial repetition by a second language speaker is treated as indicating that the speaker has a problem understanding a lexical item, which suggests that orientation to linguistic asymmetry is operative as one resource for action formation and recognition (Heritage 2012b). Another type of interactional sequence which seems to constitute a central site where participants’ language expertise is clearly oriented to as relevant is word search sequences (Brouwer 2003; Koshik and Seo 2012). By inviting and seeking help in doing word searches, the speaker orients to the language expertise of the interlocutors. Orientation to participants’ language expertise is also observed in sequences where participants work on establishing initial reference (Svennevig 2010; Kim 2012). Kim (2012) illustrates how learning opportunities are generated through built-in design features of interaction such as preference for the use of name over recognitional description. The current study reports on learning opportunities contingently generated in CfL by examining knowledge check sequences. The data used for the study consist of 14 hours of audio recordings of CfL in which two Korean adolescent boys, Chungho and Jinho, who are brothers, met with an American graduate student, Tom, every two weeks over the course of nine months for the ostensible purpose of language learning and practice. Yumi, who was helping with the recording, sometimes joined in conversation. They met in a variety of places such as a coffee shop, a fast food restaurant, or at someone’s residence. One meeting lasted approximately one hour and they had 13 sessions in all, which amounted to 14 hours of audio recording. 4. THE STUDY 4.1 Knowledge check questions to introduce a new topic As previously stated, the sequential environments where potential knowledge asymmetries are manifest and dealt with at the surface of interaction were identified as a focus of analysis, which in turn led to examining the use of the knowledge check question ‘do you know what X is?’ or ‘do you know X?’. A collection was made of the excerpts that include knowledge check questions, and CA transcriptions were made of the entire collection. Two main functions were identified for the use of the knowledge check question: (i) Introducing a new topic at topic-initial position and (ii) checking the recipient’s knowledge of the lexical item at non-topic-initial positions. In a topic-initial environment, the form serves both functions—introducing a new topic and checking the recipient’s knowledge status regarding the potential topic. As one needs to know whether the interlocutor has some knowledge of the topic-to-be-introduced and how knowledgeable she/he is on the topic to diagnose the prospect of and design the talk on that topic with the particular interlocutor (recipient design), the topic-initiating move often takes the form of a knowledge check (Schegloff 2007). This is illustrated in Excerpt (1). Chungho, Jinho, and Tom are having dinner at a family restaurant. (1) Star Wars [May 8: 997–1012]As they are eating, rather long lapses of silence occasionally occur. After quite a long lapse into silence (line 997), Tom initiates a new topic by asking the two boys whether they know about the movie Star Wars. After Chungho provides an affirmative answer, Tom asks a further question that is designed to ascertain their knowledge status in a more fine-grained measure (lines 1001 and 1004), eliciting Chungho’s description of his knowledge concerning Star Wars, which in turn, effectively serves to launch the new topic. The sequence showcases the use of the knowledge check question format as a means of introducing a new topic, though the question is in a slightly different form, ‘do you guys know about …?’.2 Unlike other institutional talk, where participants have a particular purpose for interacting with each other, in CfL, one of the tasks is to find what to talk about. A great deal of sequential work is devoted to generating and launching a new topic. For this, estimating each other’s knowledge status is essential. When initiating a new topic, ascertaining the recipient’s knowledge status vis-à-vis the to-be-introduced topic seems to be a prerequisite. 4.2 Knowledge check question occasioned from the prior sequence When the knowledge check question was found in non-topic-initial positions, it was either occasioned from the prior sequence or adopted prospectively. I first examine the instances where the knowledge check question is occasioned from the prior sequence. In Excerpt (2), Tom, Chungho, and Jinho are sitting at an outdoor table of a coffee shop. Each of them has just sat down at the table with the drinks that they had ordered for themselves. Chungho’s drink is a strawberry soda. (2) Carbonation [Oct 17: 24–38]Tom asks whether Chungho’s drink is carbonated (line 29) and Chungho’s answer is ambiguous—unclear whether he doesn’t know if his drink is carbonated or he has not understood the previous turn. Given that it is Chungho’s drink that he ordered himself and is currently drinking, the latter is more likely to be the case. Chungho’s no-knowledge claim occasions the knowledge check question by Tom (line 33), which indicates the speaker’s orientation to his interlocutor as a second language learner. With no immediate answer forthcoming (line 34), Tom adds a description of what carbonation is (line 35). As he is about to add another description (line 37), Chungho claims his understanding (Koole 2010), with ‘ah’ (line 38), one variant of a change-of-state token (Heritage 1984). Excerpt (2) shows that when there seemed to be a danger that intersubjectivity might be put at risk, the L1 speaker issued the knowledge check question, which served to identify the source of the problem that impeded intersubjectivity at the moment. The question also elicited definition talk (Markee 1994) of the trouble source, which served to restore intersubjectivity and in so doing, simultaneously provided a learning opportunity. The lexical item, ‘carbonated’, initially opaque to the L2 speaker becomes unpacked, that is, ‘like the bubbles in the water’ and ‘like soda’. Chungho’s claim of understanding ‘ah’ (line 38) marks the moment of restored intersubjectivity as he marks his changed knowing state in the observable space of interaction. Another sequential environment, though not frequently found, that occasioned a knowledge check in the current data was a delay in providing a second pair part, as can be seen in the following excerpt. Prior to the excerpt, Chungho was talking about his experience of archery in his P.E. class at school. (3) Darts [Feb 27: 395–410]At line 397, Tom is introducing a new topic by asking the two boys whether they have played darts before,3 which constitutes a stepwise topic transition (Jefferson 1984). After a 1.3 s pause, Chungho is about to begin his turn, which is marked with a few tokens of hesitation markers (line 399). This pause and the hesitation markers are oriented to by Tom as a possible lack of lexical knowledge on the part of the two boys, which occasions a knowledge check question (line 400). As it turns out, both of the boys know what darts is. However, the delay in response is oriented to as a possible moment of non-understanding, which occasions a knowledge check question from the L1 speaker. In conversations that involve L2 speakers, pauses and delays within and between turns are quite common (Wong 2000, 2004) and they are not always oriented to as signaling dispreferred responses. Excerpt (3) illustrates a case where the L1 speaker orients to pauses and delays in response as possibly caused by the potential lack of lexical knowledge on the part of the recipient. The sequence demonstrates that asymmetries in language knowledge are oriented to as an omni-relevant source of problems in interaction. The third type of sequence that occasioned a knowledge check question at non-topic-initial position was other-initiation of repair by the L2 speaker. Other-initiation of repair can be used to implement a range of different actions (Hayashi et al. 2013; Robinson 2013; Lilja 2014) and can be implemented via different types of formats, which include open class repair initiators (Drew 1997; Robinson 2006), wh-words, partial repetition (Lilja 2014), partial repetition plus wh-word, and candidate understandings (Sidnell 2010; Hayashi et al. 2013; Kitzinger 2013). In the current data, one instance was found where the knowledge check question is occasioned after the L2 speaker’s initiation of repair via an open-class repair initiator. In the following excerpt, Chungho and Tom are talking about horror movies and Chungho is describing one scene from the movie Thirteen Ghosts. (4) Gory [Apri 17: 935–964]Tom’s assessment of the particular scene they were talking about (line 945) is followed by Chungho’s assessment (line 947). This elicits Tom’s laughter and another assessment (just gory), which delivers a weakly disaffiliative stance to Chungho’s strong negative assessment (I hate that, in line 947). After a 1 s pause, however, Chungho initiates repair using the format of open-class repair initiator.4 This repair initiation is subject to two possible interpretations: (i) ‘you really think so?’ (K+ repair initiation action5) (Robinson 2013) and (ii) ‘I have a problem hearing or understanding’ (K− repair initiation action) (Robinson 2013). However, the speaker of the trouble source turn orients to the possibility that the recipient lacks the lexical knowledge of the adjective ‘gory’ (thus, K− repair initiation action) and launches a knowledge check question (you know the word gory? in line 953). Chungho’s negative answer occasions definition talk (Markee 1994) of the word ‘gory’ (lines 956 and 957: a lot of blood and violence ’n that kind of thing). Chungho responds to this by demonstrating his understanding of the word with an example (line 959). This serves to mark the moment of restored intersubjectivity as well as evidence of vocabulary learning on Chungho’s part. In excerpt (4), again, upon encountering the sign of non-understanding (here realized by repair initiation), the knowledge check question is issued and serves to begin the work of restoring mutual understanding, and in so doing, vocabulary learning is achieved. 4.3 Prospective use of knowledge check In addition to being occasioned from the prior sequence, the knowledge check question was also observed to be used prospectively, which shows the speaker’s prospective estimate of the recipient’s knowledge status regarding the target reference. Excerpt (5) illustrates this. (5) Hide and seek [Feb 13: 1324–1334]As the speaker is about to deliver an example of the games that he used to play with his brothers (like uh, in line 1333), a micro second pause occurs and the syntactic construction underway thus far is aborted. Instead, a new syntactic construction (do you guys know …) is adopted to introduce the name of the game (lines 1333 and 1334). With the recipient's claim of recognition, however, the side sequence is soon closed. By delivering the target reference item in a knowledge check question, the speaker demonstrates his orientation to the recipient's potential lack of lexical knowledge regarding the name of the game. As what one knows and does not know constitutes an important part of one’s identity/membership (Heritage 2012b), making an estimate on the other’s knowledge status also projects the speaker’s perception of the recipient’s identity/membership. This, in turn, can be accepted or resisted (Kitzinger and Mandelbaum 2013). The speaker can choose to ascertain a recipient’s knowledge status, with minimum disruption to sequence progressivity, using try-marking 6 (Sacks and Schegloff 1979) instead of a full-blown question, as seen in Excerpt (6). (6) Tag [Feb 13: 1324–1334]Excerpt (6) is a continuation of Excerpt (5). In listing what games he used to play with his brothers when he was young, Tom delivers the name of another game with try-marking (line 1338), thus providing a space for the recipient to indicate his knowledge status. Note that the first ‘ta:g¿’ is delivered in a rising intonation followed by a brief pause, which serves to check the recipient’s recognition. With no vocal response provided during the subsequent 1.1 second pause,7 the speaker ascertains that the recipient does not know what tag is and definition talk is generated 8 (you have to touch the person). We do not see any change-of-state token or other way of indicating his recognition from Chungho immediately following the definition talk this time, but right after the subsequent instance of try-marking (or like freeze tag? in line 1340–1341), and in overlap with the ensuing knowledge check question (d’ you know that? in line 1340), the recipient indicates his recognition with an affirmative token uttered in laughter (line 1342). 4.4 Other-initiation of repair: What is X? In the preceding section, knowledge check questions at non-topic-initial positions were examined—both those occasioned by what had transpired in the prior sequences and those used prospectively, that is, demonstrating the speaker’s prospective estimate of the recipient’s knowledge status. In both cases, these knowledge check questions conveyed the speaker’s orientation to the possibility that the recipient might lack the lexical knowledge of the target reference. In the latter case, the question served to preempt other initiation of repair (Svennevig 2010). This becomes clear when the excerpts are compared to a case where the speaker does not take the initiative to check the recipient’s knowledge status regarding a potentially problematic reference, and the recipient has to initiate repair, as in Excerpt (7) below. In Excerpt (7), Chungho and Tom are talking about the North–South Korea relationship, which could be a sensitive topic. (7) Stereotype [Oct 17: 1087–1103]Prior to the excerpt, Tom and Chungho were talking about Korean boys’ obligation of military service. The topic made a stepwise transition to the North and South Korea relationship. Now Tom is inquiring about Chungho’s views on North Koreans. Tom’s topic-initiating inquiry starts with a rather broadly formulated wh-question (line 1087). The lack of immediate response prompts Tom to issue a subsequent question that takes a more specific yes–no interrogative form (lines 1089). Another response gap in line 1090 prompts a third version of the question, which serves to facilitate soliciting an answer (Gardner 2004; Kasper and Ross 2007). As a 0.6-s pause ensues, Tom provides an increment ‘South Korean?’ orienting to the possibility that the comprehension problem might lie in locating the reference of ‘people’ in his previous turn. Chungho’s other initiation of repair, ‘What is stoyr-steruh type?’ in line 1095, however, reveals that the trouble source lies in the lexical item ‘stereotype’. Note that Chungho shows a slight difficulty in pronouncing the target word (line 1095). Chungho’s initiation of repair clearly identifies the trouble source and the nature of the problem (the meaning of the word). In terms of sequential structure, it constitutes a mirror image of a knowledge check question (i.e. compare ‘Do you know what X is?’ asked by the speaker of the potential trouble source with ‘What is X?’ asked by the recipient of the potential trouble source lexicon). Here, the L2 speaker’s question of ‘What is stoyr-steruh type?’ elicits definition sequences (line 1097–1098) (Markee 1994), while in Excerpt (4) and (6), the L1 speaker’s preemptive knowledge check elicits a definition sequence. In response to Tom’s definition of the word (‘some ideas about all North Koreans’), Chungho checks his understanding by proffering a possible synonym (prejudice). This engenders a few more turns devoted to clarifying a more nuanced meaning of the word as Tom attempts to withdraw a possibly negative connotation implied in his prior questions (‘it doesn’t have to be: doesn’t have to be negative’). Excerpt (7) presents a case in which a problem in achieving intersubjectivity is revealed by the L2 speaker’s other initiation of repair, and intersubjectivity is restored through the subsequently provided definition talk. Furthermore, the L2 speaker’s learning of the word ‘stereotype’ took place simultaneously while he, a South Korean adolescent boy, and Tom, an American adult, were working out the contextual meaning of each other’s utterances in local talk. This excerpt shows the multi-layered nature of interaction as a site where language learning takes place as part of participants’ meaning negotiation practice. 4.5 Learning opportunities afforded in interaction Apart from learning opportunities generated by explicit knowledge check and subsequent definition sequences, the interactional space of CfL seems to provide various types of learning opportunities. One of them is found in the L2 speaker’s behavior of appropriating the L1 speaker’s naming practice. Consider the following excerpt. (8) You’re making a deal? [Mar 13: 621–638]Prior to Excerpt (8), Jinho, the younger brother was engaged in a bit of horseplay, blowing spitballs toward Chungho and his McDonald’s food, which seemed to disturb Chungho. In line 621, Chungho, in Korean, tells him to stop while offering one french fry to Jinho, who has already finished his portion. Tom, who has no knowledge of Korean and was watching the interaction between the two boys, amused, offers his observation of the scene as ‘making a deal’ (line 625) along with his analysis of the details of the deal (‘if you give me a french fry, I won’t spit anything at you’). All three of them laugh at some point and the sequence is concluded by a series of Tom’s assessments, ‘it’s a good deal’ in line 634 and ‘bribery’ in line 638. Roughly 10 minutes later, Chungho uses the same expression to describe a similar situation. (9) Another deal [Mar 13: 907–933]With Jinho’s continued horseplay, Chungho, in Korean, keeps telling his brother to stop what he is doing (line 907), suggests that he will give Jinho all of his food, and begs him to stop (line 911). In response to this, Jinho denies that he was doing anything disruptive (line 912). With forced laughter from Chungho and suppressed laughter from both Jinho and Tom, Tom continues telling his experience of having been to the Great Wall of China as he is showing a picture of the Great Wall found in his wallet (line 916–917). Subsequent to the sound of putting down a teacup on the plate, Chungho says, ‘another deal’, which is followed by Tom’s parallel and slightly expanded turn, ‘another deal’s for the soda’. It is inferred that Chungho now gave his soda to Jinho to stop him doing what he was doing. He named his action using the expression used by Tom some 10 minutes earlier. This is an example of how a participant in conversation ‘appropriates’ (Pallotti 2001, 2002) a linguistic expression used by another party to fit his/her own communicative purpose. By borrowing the expression used by Tom to define what is currently going on, Chungho expands his communicative repertoire. Observing interactional practices deployed by other participants and using them to serve one’s own communicative purposes is a phenomenon observed not only in CfL (cf. Eskildsen and Wagner 2015), but also in much of the mundane conversation that we engage in every day. This is what is referred to as ‘appropriation’, as developed in the Bakhtinian tradition (Bakhtin 1981; Wertsch 1998)—the act of using the words of others and making them our own by adjusting the form/content according to our communicative intent. This showcases the very practice whereby participants in interaction learn a language by using it. The practice of ‘appropriation’ illustrates how tightly interwoven language learning and use are. By borrowing the expression to aptly describe what he was doing, Chungho shows not only his grasp of the linguistic expression, and thus expands his repertoire of interactional resources, but also achieves some kind of cohesion in the current interaction (Pallotti 2002). Embedded in interactional practice, interactional resources such as words and fixed expressions are observable and circulated in conversation. Parties in interaction observe the usage and incorporate them into their own practice. However, it should be noted that not all lexical items used in the interlocutor’s turns make themselves readily available for the L2 speaker to appropriate. Consider the following excerpt.9 In line 888 of Excerpt (10), Chungho is displaying difficulty in producing the word ‘blister’ as he was talking about his experience of playing video games to the extent of being addicted and experiencing physical repercussions. (10) Blister [Jan 16: 885–896]In line 888, Chungho is providing an account of why he had to shout to himself, saying that if he played a video game ever again, he would call himself a lunatic. The turn starts with a connective ‘cuz’, which projects an upcoming account. Note that there is a one second pause after ‘I have’ and the pause is followed by a word search marker, ‘I don’t know the (.) word, (0.3) the exact word, but’. In a slight overlap with Chungho’s current turn (line 889), Yumi provides a candidate solution (blister) (line 890). With no response immediately provided (line 891), Yumi provides a Korean translation of the word ‘blister’, ‘mulcip’ (line 892), which is then hearable as ‘you want to say mulcip’. Subsequent to Chungho’s confirmation (line 893), Yumi repeats the word again (line 894), and this time, it is incorporated in his subsequent turn (line 895). What is noteworthy is that the word ‘blister’ had been used twice in Tom’s nearby preceding turns, as can be seen in Excerpt (10)-1 below. (10)-1 Blister I [Jan 16: 851–864]In describing his dormitory life in college, Tom mentions ‘blister’ (line 854), and Chungho’s question ‘here?’ in line 856 seems to suggest that he has understood what ‘blisters’ means as it is hearable as ‘you used to get blisters here?’. The word appears again a few lines later in Tom’s turn (line 863), in the context of describing too much video game play. It is only two minutes after this that Excerpt (10) appears, where Chungho displays difficulty in producing the word when it becomes his turn to describe a similar experience of his. These two excerpts show that not all language items used in the interlocutor’s turns are readily available for the learner to incorporate in his speech even though the learner has understood it when it was used. Having understood the meaning of a new lexical item in one local context does not necessarily mean that the learner is able to use it productively for his own use (Eskildsen and Wagner 2015). Complete learning of a new vocabulary item might occur over an extended period of time. On the other hand, the knowledge check question, by singling out the target lexical item and making it an object of inquiry, incidentally serves the pedagogical function of drawing the L2 learner’s attention to the lexical item. 5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Interaction provides a shared and observable cognitive space where the knowledge statuses of the participants are constantly revealed, made observable, and updated. By asking a question, parties-in-interaction may show themselves to be without knowledge, while by issuing a knowledge check question, the speaker attempts to ascertain the other party’s knowledge status. Here, this knowledge status is at both the macro and micro level, that is, the level of topic knowledge as well as language knowledge (vocabulary). When the asymmetry in knowledge is revealed and brought to the fore of interaction by a sequential move, it is routinely followed up by a move to address the revealed knowledge asymmetry such as definition talk (Markee 1994). Preemptively used knowledge check questions show the speaker’s orientation to the potential lack of knowledge on the part of the recipient and serve as a preemptive device for other initiation of repair. Examining the sequential environment for ‘Do you know what X is?’ as it occurs in CfL reveals that there is a strong orientation to language knowledge asymmetry, and thus to the possible breakdown of intersubjectivity in CfL. The question shows participants’ concern for maintaining intersubjectivity as well as orientation to the pedagogic purpose of the talk. It has been shown that the knowledge check practice provides a sequential environment which is particularly conducive for language learning by generating definition talk (Markee 1994). For example, ‘bubbles in the water’ was provided for the initial trouble source ‘carbonated’ in Excerpt (2); ‘a lot of blood and violence’ for ‘gory’ in Excerpt (4); ‘you have to touch the person’ for ‘tag’ in Excerpt (6); ‘some ideas about all North Koreans’ for ‘stereotype’ in Excerpt (7). The sequence can be expanded as the recipient of the definition talk might claim his understanding via the change-of-state token ‘oh’ (Excerpt (2)) or try to check his understanding by offering an example (e.g. ‘Like a bathtub filled with all blood?’ as in Excerpt (4)) or by proffering a synonym (‘prejudice’ as in Excerpt (7)), which, in turn, is subject to further negotiation of meaning as we have seen in Excerpt (7). Definition talk is an occasioned occurrence that arises as participants work on achieving intersubjectivity and language learning takes place as a by-product as participants strive to achieve mutual understanding while they engage in co-constructed sense-making activity. The sequential environment where Chungho learns the meaning of the word ‘stereotype’ is the same site where participants reflect on and modify the meaning of their turns based on other participants’ responses. In this article, another type of learning opportunity afforded in interaction was also considered, that is, participants’ practice of ‘appropriation’ (Pallotti 2002). Interaction provides a site where other participants’ interactional practices are publicly observable. Learners can observe other participants’ interactional practices as they engage in meaning making activities and can deploy the practice to fit their own communicative needs. The process of language learning unavoidably involves taking over words and expressions used by others and using them for one’s own communicative needs (Bakhtin 1981; Wertsch 1998). Furthermore, as discussed by Eskildsen and Wagner (2015), this process of picking up new language items from the environment and ‘learning to control [the] new semiotic resources’ (p. 291) seems to take place over an extended period of time. Chungho was able to comprehend the lexical item ‘blister’ in the context of Tom’s storytelling of too much playing of video games, but was not able to produce the word by himself when it became his turn to describe his experience, although this happened only two minutes after the lexical item was used by Tom. L2 vocabulary learning seems to be a slow and gradual process, which requires recurrent exposure and context for production. The data reviewed have shown that learning in interaction is not limited to negotiation of meaning (Pica 1991; Long 1996), which often begins with other initiation of repair. Parties-in-interaction are not merely responding to the other party’s sequential move. They proactively orient to the other party’s knowledge status, estimating and foreseeing potential difficulties in maintaining intersubjectivity, and make a sequential move to forestall the problem. While the observation concerning how comprehensible input is generated in interaction via negotiation of meaning provides useful insights, Long’s (1996) Interaction Hypothesis treats interaction as merely an input generator and does not give due consideration to participants’ agency and varied types of effort to maintain intersubjectivity (e.g. Eskildsen and Wagner 2015) by foreseeing a problem and preventing it. The common sense belief that interaction is a primary site where language learning takes place should be predicated on the understanding of how interaction is constantly driven by an effort to achieve and maintain mutual understanding. Knowledge check questions and definition talk that ensues them are interactional practices motivated by the preference for achieving intersubjectivity in talk-in-interaction (Sacks and Schegloff 1979). Learning happens while participants collaboratively strive to achieve mutual understanding as they estimate each other’s knowledge status and check if mutual understanding is not at risk moment-by-moment. The current study consolidates the findings of previous CA-SLA studies showing that interactional resources/methods used to solve interactional problems are exactly the resources that enable language learning (Lee 2010; Eskildsen and Theodórsdóttir 2017). Methods deployed by parties-in-interaction to achieve and maintain intersubjectivity lie at the heart of what makes interaction a primordial site for language learning, which, in turn leads to the observation that the methods and devices that underlie and enable human sociality constitute the cornerstones of what makes language learning happen in interaction. As Kasper and Kim (2015) point out, CfL has been carried out in a wide variety of settings (e.g. a lounge with sofas and tables, vacant classrooms, fast food restaurants) and arrangements (e.g. with and without the presence of an L1 speaker, L2 speakers sharing the same L1, L2 speakers with different L1s). The current study examined one type of CfL and showed how the question ‘Do you know what X is?’ is deployed to serve the institutional goals of the interaction. Whether or not a similar practice is observed across CfL talk in other settings has yet to be examined. Finally, while the talk examined in the current study came from longitudinal data, the present analysis does not take advantage of the data’s longitudinal aspect. A fruitful avenue for future research with longitudinal CfL data would be to examine the use of knowledge check questioning (including try-marking) along the timeline to shed light on how participants’ common ground is updated and increased over time and how they keep track of the common ground as they build their relationships over time. Younhee Kim is an Assistant Professor at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests include Second Language Acquisition/Learning, Conversation Analysis, and pragmatics in a second language. Her current research involves examining bilingual children’s language acquisition from a conversation-analytic perspective. She has published in Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of Teacher Education, and System, and has a few book chapters. Address for correspondence: English Language and Literature, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk 3-03-123, 637616, Singapore. <younheek@gmail.com> Notes Footnotes 1 Having said that, it should be noted that knowledge asymmetries are present in almost all interaction and constitute a driving force of interaction (Heritage 2012a). 2 In fact, question formats that check the interlocutor’s access to the potential topic such as ‘Have you ever seen …?’ or ‘Did you ever seen ...?’ were often found to introduce a new topic. 3 Another relevant piece of background information is that there was a dart board right next to the table where they were talking. The dart board is referred to as ‘like this one’ in line 408 by Tom. 4 ‘Yah?’ can be understood as a (Korean) honorific version of ‘huh?’. 5 Following Robinson (2013), I use the notation K± for the sake of notational convenience to refer to the speaker’s (here, repair initiator’s) knowledge status regarding the target reference. In other words, K+ repair initiation refers to the case in which the repair initiator has the knowledge of what the trouble source refers to, and thus the action that it implements is more likely to indicate the speaker’s disaffiliative stance or disbelief. 6 The use of try-marking is also observed in cases where the speaker indicates his/her uncertainty in pronouncing a target reference and thus seeks assistance/confirmation from the recipient as shown in the following excerpt. 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Applied LinguisticsOxford University Press

Published: Sep 27, 2017

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