Learner pragmatics at the discourse level: Staying “on topic” in a telecollaborative eTandem task

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The present paper examines topic management in the task-based interactions of German learners of English and their Irish English speaking partners. Specifically, the paper explores the resources employed by speakers to maintain cohesion in talk while transitioning topics via announcement turns. Two resources for maintaining cohesion are explored in detail: co-class membership relations and contrast relations. The quantitative results suggest that learners employ similar resources to the NS. The qualitative results reveal areas on the level of linguistic realisation of topic transitioning turns where learners exhibit some difficulty in alignment and in the use of discourse connectives.

Data for the present study is drawn from Language LINC, a corpus of telecollaborative eTandem interactions. Methodologically, the present paper applies tools from conversation analysis (CA) in a sequentially sensitive analysis of the collection of announcements. In addition to a careful qualitative analysis of each case, a quantitative analysis is presented in order to uncover variation in the methods employed by the learners as opposed to the expert speakers. This mixed method approach is considered with respect to its place in the CA research tradition (Stivers, 2015) and its fit for analyses of authentic, consequential interactions in the interlanguage pragmatic tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 07.2018

    Research areas

  • Language Studies - Topic management, topic transitions, Topic transitioning resources, Announcements, Mixed methods, telecollaboration, Computer mediated communication