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Conversation‐for‐Learning: Institutional Talk Beyond the Classroom
Kasper, G.1; KIM, Younhee2
Source PublicationThe Handbook of Classroom Discourse
Author of SourceNuma Markee
Publication PlaceChichester, England
PublisherWiley Blackwell
Other Abstract

One persistent problem for language teaching is to provide students with sufficient opportunities to interact in the target language with their peers. To offset the limitations of teacher‐ fronted classroom interaction, teachers organize various kinds of in‐class peer activities in pairs or small groups–task‐structured activities, discussions based on a teacher‐selected topic, text, or video, role plays and simulations, and the like. There is a large literature that investigates the organization and effectiveness of different types and formats of classroom peer interaction from a range of theoretical perspectives (e.g., Branden, Bygate and Norris 2009; Robinson 2011).

In addition to in‐class lessons, some language programs also offer second or foreign language speakers opportunities for using the target language, typically in talk with L1 speakers, outside the classroom. Variably called conversations‐for‐learning, conversation tables, conversation clubs, conversation lounges, or conversation rooms, these activities are arranged to provide foreign language students with an environment for target language use that may be difficult to come by with other means, as in the case of Chinese (Hwang 2009, Estonian (Kivik 2012), or German (Kasper 2004; Kasper and Kim 2007) in the North American context or English in Japan (Carroll 2000, 2004, 2005; Nao 2011, 2013; Otsu and Krug 2013). Language programs in contexts where the L2 is a language of wider communication may offer conversation tables in order to give students access to L2 use that is typically different from the classroom and that students may not be exposed to or seek out by themselves. Multiparty conversations in particular afford the L2 participants opportunities for using the L2 in interaction not only with an L1 speaker or L1 speakers but with other L2 speakers whose first language they may not share. To date, published reports of such arrangements are limited to ESL settings in the US (Hauser 2005a, b, c, 2008, 2010; Jung 2004). Conversations‐for‐learning are also arranged on the initiatives of L2 speakers, students, or parents independently of language programs, for instance to practice English as a second language (Hauser 2013a, b; Kim 2012, submitted; Koshik and Seo 2012; Markee and Seo 2009; Seo 2011; Seo and Koshik 2010) or Japanese as a foreign language (Mori 2003; Mori and Hayashi 2006) in the US. In a prototypical conversation table arrangement, L2 speakers get together with one or more L1 speaker(s) in order to talk, without a set agenda, about a wide range of topics relating to their lives, experiences and interests, and culture‐specific practices. The expected pedagogical benefit is that in the course of such topical talk, opportunities for learning language and culture will contingently arise. As the research literature shows, conversation tables indeed meet this expectation.

The chapter will be organized as follows. We will begin by describing conversations‐ for‐learning, or conversation tables, as forms of institutional talk. Then we will examine some of the practices through which the participants achieve the local order of conversation table interaction. This section will include considerations of participant identities, their relation to participation frameworks, and of language choice. We will also illustrate some of the prevalent interactional practices through which the participants orient to the institutional character of the activity. Next, we will show how opportunities for L2 learning are contingently generated, how the participants engage in L2 learning as a social activity, and how conversation table interaction over an extended period allows us to observe the development of language resources and interactional practices. In closing, we will outline some directions for future research on conversations‐for‐learning.

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Document TypeBook chapter
CollectionPersonal research not belonging to the institution
Affiliation1.University of Hawaii
2.National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Kasper, G.,KIM, Younhee. Conversation‐for‐Learning: Institutional Talk Beyond the Classroom. Chichester, England:Wiley Blackwell,2015:390-408.
APA Kasper, G.,&KIM, Younhee.(2015).Conversation‐for‐Learning: Institutional Talk Beyond the Classroom.The Handbook of Classroom Discourse,390-408.
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