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Title:Group planning among L2 learners of Italian: a conversation analytic perspective
Author(s):Kunitz, Silvia
Director of Research:Markee, Numa P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Markee, Numa P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Golato, Andrea; Hayashi, Makoto; Musumeci, Diane
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Conversation Analysis
group work
classroom interaction
codeswitching/language alternation
Italian as a foreign language
second language acquisition (SLA)
language learning
Abstract:The present work aims at contributing to classical SLA planning research by developing a behavioral respecification of planning. To this end, I adopt a process-oriented, conversation analytic approach in the analysis of thirteen planning sessions, conducted by four groups of adult learners of Italian as a foreign language while preparing for a classroom presentation in their L2. In general terms, planning is defined as a goal-oriented activity that is carried out to prepare for the performance of a given task. Classical SLA research conceptualizes planning in psycholinguistic terms, as an individual, cognitive endeavor, and studies it with a product-oriented approach, focusing on the linguistic gains that can be obtained in the final performance of a task, given different planning conditions (e.g., planning time, guided versus unguided planning, group versus individual planning, etc.). However, this line of research has generally failed to document what learners actually do during planning, and has fundamentally disregarded the social aspects of planning and task performance (Ellis, 2005a). Thus, in line with the call for a process-oriented and ecologically sound approach to planning in SLA (Donato, 1994; Ellis, 2005a; Foster & Skehan, 1999; Kawauchi, 2005; Ortega, 1999, 2005; Sangarun, 2005; Truong & Storch, 2007), and with the behavioral approach adopted in other fields (Murphy, 2004, 2005; Roth, 1996, Suchman, 1987, 2007), the present work applies a behavioral and process-oriented approach to the study of group planning, as it is collaboratively accomplished, in situ, by the participants. In my analysis, I rely on the methodological and theoretical tools of ethnomethodological Conversation Analysis (CA), which affords an emic (i.e., participant-related) account of what actually happens in the process of group planning, on a moment-by-moment basis. Specifically, I use CA to demonstrably document: (a) the observable practices enacted by students during planning; (b) the students’ use of available resources; (c) the creation of material artifacts (both oral and written) that reflect the gradual emergence of the planning product in interaction; (d) the students’ emic criteria in carrying out the planning activity and in conceptualizing the final task. In analyzing the present dataset, I explore how students collaboratively create and work on emergent linguistic artifacts, mainly consisting of script lines to be performed in the L2 during the final presentation. Specifically, I focus on those artifacts that emerge orally, get shaped in and through the interaction, and are finally written up in Italian. These artifacts function as public conversational substrates (Goodwin, 2013), upon which various operations are performed. Such operations include translations from the L1 to L2 and vice versa, and repair work targeting accuracy and comprehensibility. An analysis of the language alternation patterns enacted by these students also shows how the participants, regardless of their proficiency level in the L2, resourcefully employ the two shared languages in their repertoire (i.e., L1 English and L2 Italian) and co-construct a local interactional order (Cromdal, 2005) where the alternation between the L1 and the L2 embodies the distinction between planning process (typically conducted in English) and planning product (typically conveyed in Italian). Overall, these findings speak to the distinction between task-as-plan and task-as-activity (Coughlan & Duff, 1994; Hellermann & Pekarek Doeleher, 2010; Markee & Kasper, 2004; Mondada & Pekarek-Doehler, 2004; Mori, 2002; Seedhouse, 2005b), by showing how students are “active agents” (Markee & Kasper, 2004, p. 496) who accomplish the task according to their ongoing interpretations of the task itself and of the instructional setting in which it takes place. In conclusion, the analysis developed in this study allows for a behavioral respecification of planning, which comes to be defined as an intersubjective, goal-oriented activity that is done by multilingual actors as observable behavior, in situ, in and through embodied talk-in-interaction. Planning is thus achieved through the lamination (Goodwin, 2013) of different semiotic systems and embodied interactional practices, while planning sessions represent particular loci of emergent, accumulative, and cooperative human action where specific language learning behaviors (Markee, 2008) may be expected to occur.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Silvia Kunitz
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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