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Developing an L2 grammar-for-interaction: elaborations on interactional competence

English title Developing an L2 grammar-for-interaction: elaborations on interactional competence
Applicant Pekarek Doehler Simona
Number 200539
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Centre de Linguistique Appliquée Institut des Sciences du Langage Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Applied linguistics
Start/End 01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025
Approved amount 753'166.00
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Keywords (6)

interactional linguistics; grammar-in-interaction; second language acquisition; interactional competence; conversation analysis; longitudinal design

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Dans ce projet, nous étudions la trajectoire développementale de la compétence d'interaction en langue seconde:- Comment les apprenants utilisent-ils leurs ressources linguistiques pour gérer les mécanismes interactifs basiques, tels l’alternance des tours de parole, l’ouverture ou la clôture des échanges conversationnels, ou la gestion du désaccord ?- Comment ces ressources-linguistiques-pour-l’interaction changent-ils au travers le temps?
Lay summary

C’est là un fait bien connu: des apprenants qui montrent une grande maîtrise de leur L2 à l’écrit ou dans un exposé oral se voient souvent dépourvus de moyens de communication quand il s’agit d’interagir avec autrui dans une conversation spontanée. Afin de mieux comprendre ce phénomène, et donc la compétence d’interaction en L2, nous nous proposons d’explorer l’interface entre formes linguistiques et dynamique interactive:

-        Comment les apprenants utilisent-ils leurs ressources linguistiques pour gérer les mécanismes interactifs basiques, tels l’alternance des tours de parole, l’ouverture ou la clôture des échanges conversationnels, ou la gestion du désaccord ?

-        Comment ces ressources-linguistiques-pour-l’interaction changent-ils au travers le temps?

Notre focus analytique appartient à des expressions lexicalement fixes (p.ex. je sais pas, comment on dit) et plus abstraites (comme les constructions clivées: c’est … qui/que….). Nous combinons les procédures d’un courant d’analyse linguistique (Linguistique Interactionnelle) avec l’approche interactionnelle de l’acquisition (CA-SLA) pour étudier des conversations authentiques entre des locuteurs adultes du Français L2 de différents niveaux de compétences, enregistrés par audio et vidéo dans des intervalles réguliers au cours de 6 à 21 mois.  La comparaison des locuteurs de différents niveaux de compétence, ainsi que l’étude de leur progrès au travers le temps nous permet d’identifier des trajectoires développementales de la grammaire-pour-l’interaction en L2 et contribue ainsi à une meilleure compréhension de la compétence d’interaction: elle nous renseigne sur les compétences précise dont l’apprenant a besoin pour participer de manière adéquate à l’échange communicatif en L2.  

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 04.08.2021

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Abstract

Throughout the past two decades, the field of second language acquisition (SLA) research has seen a significant shift of attention from the cognitive and linguistic properties of the individual learner to the dynamics of second language (L2) use and learning in social interaction. Within conversation analytic SLA (CA-SLA), the very object of L2 learning has been re-defined as the ability to interact in an L2, i.e., as interactional competence. Studies in CA-SLA document how L2 speakers, over time, change their procedures for action - relating to issues such as turn-taking, disagreeing, or repairing - as part of their evolving L2 interactional competence. Yet, the role of linguistic resources as constitutive elements of these procedures - and hence their interaction-organizational use -has remained largely unexplored. This is so despite the fact that research in Interactional Linguistics has prominently established, for L1 conversations among ‘native’ speakers, the key role of grammatical resources for the social coordination of talk. It is now time to bridge the gap in order to reach a more encompassing understanding of what it means to interact in an L2 by investigating how change, over time, in speakers’ procedures for action involves change, over time, in grammar-for-interaction. This is what this project sets out to do. Based on an understanding of language and its development as usage-based and ever-adaptive, we seek to shed light on aspects of the developmental trajectory of L2 grammar-for-interaction. We ask: how do L2 speakers use their linguistic resources for dealing with the generic organizational principles of social interaction such as turn-taking, repairing, or projecting upcoming turns and actions; and how does that use change over time? Our analytic focus is on two types of resources: (I) multi-word expressions containing complement-taking predicates such as je sais pas (‘I don’t know’) or comment on dit (‘how do you say’); (II) lexically more open constructions, such as clefts and pseudo-clefts. This focus is motivated by the fact that (a) both (I) and (II) have been documented for L1 interactions to fulfill precise interactional functions, often occurring in non-canonical forms, some of them as grammaticized marker-like elements, and (b) research on SLA has found that some aspects of (I) and (II) are particularly challenging for L2 speakers, even at advanced levels. Methodologically, we combine the procedures of Interactional Linguistics for investigating grammar-in-interaction with CA-SLA procedures for the longitudinal study of interactional competence. The analyses draw on 80 hours of naturally occurring conversations involving adult L2 speakers of French of various levels of proficiency that were video-recorded on a regular basis over 6 to 21 months. The data allow us to track individual speakers in their interactions with others over time (longitudinal design) and to compare speakers of different levels of proficiency (pseudo-longitudinal design). We design a set of studies investigating a selection of constructions for each type (I) and (II) with the ultimate aim of providing insights into the developmental trajectory of L2 grammar-in-interaction. In collaboration with a project partner specialized in quantitative analyses of multi-item strings in French L2 corpora, we complete our mainly qualitative approach with selected quantification in view of identifying frequency and distributional patterns of the target constructions.Results are anticipated to (a) substantiate a more encompassing, empirically grounded understanding of L2 interactional competence, (b) advance our knowledge of the developmental trajectories of SLA by addressing a yet unexplored issue, i.e., the interaction-organizational use of L2 grammar and its development, (c) offer theoretical advances in the study of language acquisition by shedding light on how interaction-functional distribution is a driving force for the development of L2 grammar-for-interaction.
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