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


This study explores participation in language cafés that are promoted by Swedish non-profit organizations to aid the social integration of immigrants and to provide them with social spaces for language training. Theoretically and methodologically, our study is framed within socially-oriented approaches to participation in social interaction, such as ethnography (Rampton, 2007), ethnomethodology (EM; see Garfinkel, 1967), and conversation analysis (CA; see Sidnell & Stivers, 2013). Specifically, we embrace recent EM/CA views (Kunitz & Markee, 2016) that allow for the reliance on ethnographic knowledge.

We adopt this theoretical framework to investigate how different approaches (e.g., focusing on explicit language teaching or on engaging the participants in ordinary conversation) in different café settings influence the locally constituted participation frameworks. Our data consist of: (a) field notes taken during participant observations; (b) semi-structured interviews with café-organizers, employees and volunteers; and (c) video recordings of naturally occurring interactions between Swedish-speaking volunteers and speakers of L2 Swedish.

In our analysis we triangulate the data to describe different café settings and show examples of interactions among the participants. The study will show that the participation framework varies depending on the local and material organization of each café, which in turn relates to the organizers’ views concerning the socialization of immigrants in the host society and the role of language cafés in fostering it.

In this presentation we will specifically focus on the discourse strategies through which social proximity is co-constructed and established in the café setting. The study is inspired by the emerging interest for language learning environments in non-educational settings (Eskildsen & Theodórdóttir, 2015; Wagner, 2015) and contributes to the literature in this field.