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Interactional inteillumination and participation in an additional language learning setting
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1730-5463
2012 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The effects of language orientation and practices on student classroom participation

As a first point of departure, this study takes a sociocultural perspective on human action as mediated action (Wertsch 1998). This perspective is augmented by a dialogic understanding of language as actualized meaning (Bakhtin 1981, 1986; Morris 1994) and by a social practice theory of learning which views learning as a change in the way people participate in social activity (Lave 1993). Methodologically, the present study aspires to microanalysis, indebted particularly to the principles and procedures of conversation analysis (CA) but amplified by a transcription system designed to make multimodal analysis possible.

The empirical materials analyzed in the study are video recordings of classroom interaction. They are taken from a corpus of video documentation of various subject lessons at an international secondary school in Sweden. Fieldwork involved ‘shadowing’ a class from the end of their 7th year through their 8th year during periods of fieldwork at the school spread at intervals over the academic year.

The research questions relate to the way the study of communication and communication in the classroom have long been dominated by a) a linguistic paradigm (Scollon & Scollon 2009) and b) a monolingual bias (Davies 2003). Education is a language-saturated institution (Watson 1992) and much of the activity in the classroom is conducted in and through talk (Hester & Francis 2000). The first research question therefore runs as: ‘Does the privileging of oral language in classroom communication affect language learners’ opportunities to participate and contribute to classroom activity? If so, how?

Teaching and learning in plurilingual environments provide lucid arenas in which to observe marginalization processes. Since one of the goals of instruction is communicative participation in what is for many students an unfamiliar or alien language, the way non-target language is made interactionally available/unavailable to students and the extent to which the target language becomes their sole passport to interactional arenas are critical to their levels of involvement in classroom activity. Thus the second research question: In what ways does including/excluding non-target language practices affect students’ opportunities to participate in instructional classroom procedures?

Preliminary findings with regard to the first research question suggest that, in the classroom, there is a predominance of activities requiring students to produce verbal responses in the (formal) additional language the subject learning involves. It may be surmised that, when there is a primary orientation by teachers to the language produced or not produced, student responses tend to be assessed in black and white terms rather than for the shades of progress they may evidence. Sensitivity to the variety of communicative resources students may try to use when expressing themselves is likely to promote classroom interaction. With regard to the second research question, findings from, for example, French lessons, suggest that the way the navigational services of a familiar language are used, the manner in which gesture is deployed, both iconically and as a semiotic resource in its own right, and the amount of interactional space teachers allow students are critical practices for enabling students to participate in classroom instruction.

The study relates to MP 2012 in that it extends marginalization/inclusion issues into microanalysis of classroom interaction where participation has been assumed as a condition of learning subject content (e.g. Salhström 1999). From a dialogic perspective, all school subject lessons involve learning additional language(s); any stance that makes the ability to wield such language in the throes of learning it the sole criterion of success and failure at school in attempts to grasp a subject risks marginalizing individuals educationally. 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
National Category
Pedagogy Learning
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-69107OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-69107DiVA, id: diva2:1251844
Conference
"Marginalization Processes", International multidisciplinary workshop, Örebro, Sweden, April 26-28, 2012
Available from: 2018-09-28 Created: 2018-09-28 Last updated: 2019-03-04Bibliographically approved

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St John, Oliver

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CiteExportLink to record
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