Gunilla Jansson. Foto: Johan Asplund
Gunilla Jansson. Foto: Johan Asplund

In this seminar we present an overview of our VR-funded project on language cafés as social venues and arenas for language training. We then focus on examples of incidental vocabulary work that we have so far identified.

The main aim of the project is exploratory in nature and relies on ethnographic and conversation-analytic methods. Specifically, we intend to describe how language cafés are organized as material and social ecologies aimed to the engagement in language “training”. Our dataset comprises fieldnotes, audio-recorded interviews and video-recordings of café sessions in 14 cafés in the Stockholm area; all these cafés are promoted by non-profit organizations, such as churches, libraries, and the Red Cross, that aim to provide newcomers to Sweden with an opportunity to create new social contacts and practice their Swedish. The café settings we have visited are rather heterogeneous in terms of organization, spatial configurations and participation frameworks.

However, our observations have revealed a common denominator: that is, the predominance of teaching activities with a clear focus on language, which can be either planned or unplanned. In our work on how the participants’ attention is drawn to language matters, we have observed various practices, such as other-reformulations of prior talk, board-writing and vocabulary explanations during group-reading. In analyzing these kinds of phenomena, we have come to realize how vocabulary is a central concern for both the volunteers and the visitors at the cafés, a concern which emerges as they are engaged in various activities, such as introduction rounds, information sessions, discussions and group-reading.

In this seminar we therefore reconsider some of the data that we have examined so far under the light of incidental vocabulary work; that is, as instances of vocabulary work that is not planned but is accomplished spontaneously by the participants as they encounter lexical items that are oriented to as potentially problematic for the visitors’ understanding. By shifting the focus of our analysis on practices for doing incidental vocabulary work, it becomes crucial to describe how vocabulary-oriented sequences are initiated, which sequential trajectory they follow, and which kind of uptake the visitors show at the end of such sequences.

Overall, our research in this area can contribute to an ethnomethodological and conversation-analytic account of the immanent pedagogies (Lindwall & Lymer, 2005) through which specific learnables (Eskildsen & Majlesi, 2018) emerge in interaction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silvia Kunitz
Silvia Kunitz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ali Reza Majlesi
Ali Reza Majlesi