Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Repair in Japanese Request Sequences during Student - Teacher Interactions

Academic journal article Utrecht Studies in Language and Communication

Repair in Japanese Request Sequences during Student - Teacher Interactions

Article excerpt

This study examines student and teacher interactions as they engage in role play activity (making a request) in front of other students in a Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) class at an American university. Using a conversation analytic perspective, the study examines how interactions unfold sequentially and how repair is initiated and offered when the student encounters trouble. The analysis shows three repair patterns: (a) teacher inserts an exposed correction sequence within a larger request sequence; (b) teacher initiates repair and by-standing students complete repair; (c) instead of exposed correction during the interaction, teacher offers feedback on the trouble source after the role play is over. It is argued that context, pedagogical focus, and spatial practices between the interlocutors might have led to specific repair trajectories. The analysis also shows that the teacher shifts back and forth between two roles - teacher and interlocutor - during the role play. This allows the teacher to assess the student's forms and make corrections as needed, important in the achievement of pedagogical goals. Further, it is suggested that by-standing students' embodied actions such as gaze and posture appear to be related to their degree of engagement in offering assistance to the focal student.

1 Introduction

With a growing interest in using conversation analysis (CA) as a methodological resource for understanding second language (L2) learning and teaching, studies that examine L2 classroom interactions from a conversation analytic perspective have increased (e.g., Markee, 2000; Seedhouse, 2004; Wong and Waring, 2010; Kasper and Wagner, 2011). As Markee (2000) notes, CA uncovers "the details of how learners actually deploy talk to learn on a moment-by-moment basis (p. 3)," which has been largely ignored in the mainstream second language acquisition research. With its emic, participant-based perspective and focus on talk-in-interaction as an orderly accomplishment, CA provides us with insight into how participants make their orientations, understandings and relevancies available to each other through coordinated actions as they engage in socially situated activities (Kasper, 2004).

One of the areas where CA researchers have examined is repair. Repair in the CA sense refers to the mechanisms through which certain 'troubles' or problems in interaction are dealt with (Schegloff, Jefferson, and Sacks 1977). Repair organization describes how parties engaged in a talk deal with problems in speaking, listening, and understanding, which includes but is not limited to correction of errors or mistakes, clarification requests, checks of candidate understanding, restatements, and the like. Additionally, repair is sometimes found where there is no apparent error or mistake. Thus, repair in the CA sense encompasses the mechanisms of dealing with a much wider range of actions than what is typically referred to as error correction or negative feedback in L2 learning and teaching.

Recognition of a trouble source or repairable and its subsequent repair may be undertaken by either the speaker (self) or other participants in the talk (other). As a course of action, repair shows a sequential organization or trajectory. Hutchby and Wooffitt (2008) summarize four varieties of repair trajectories depending on who initiates repair and who resolves the problem:

* Self-initiated self-repair: Repair is both initiated and carried out by the speaker of the trouble source.

* Other-initiated self-repair: Repair is carried out by the speaker of the trouble source but initiated by the recipient.

* Self-initiated other-repair: The speaker of a trouble source may try and get the recipient to repair the trouble - for instance if a name is proving troublesome to remember.

* Other-initiated other-repair: The recipient of a trouble-source turn both initiates and carries out the repair. This is closest to what is conventionally understood as 'correction', (p. …

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