Seminarieserien syftar till att synliggöra forskning med anknytning till temat migration och integration och att främja samverkan med det omgivande samhället.

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

Abstract

In this seminar we illustrate the main goals and preliminary findings of our VR-funded project on language cafés for newcomers to Sweden. These cafés are promoted by non-profit organizations to aid the social integration of migrants and to provide them with an arena for “language training”.

Ethnography and conversation analysis

In the project, ethnography and conversation analysis have been adopted to explore the material and social ecology of the cafés, together with the emergent pedagogical practices and the language learning behaviors accomplished by the participants. The dataset consists of approximately 62 interviews with volunteers and organizers, in addition to 130 hours of video-recordings in 13 cafés and field notes collected during 160 visits in 14 cafés.

Silvia Kunitz
Silvia Kunitz

Typically, each café has a Swedish-speaking coordinator and volunteers, who usually are not language teaching professionals; in some cases, there is also a facilitator whose task is that of solving understanding problems and acting as a cultural mediator.

Heterogeneous organizations

The cafés are quite heterogeneous in their organization, in their participation frameworks (e.g., with cafés working as whole groups versus cafés where small group work is privileged) and in the implementation of planned or unplanned activities.

Cafés may foster the local participation

Overall, despite the heterogeneity of these cafés, we have observed a predominance of activities with clear pedagogical goals such as form-focused exercises, reading and theme-based discussions. In our studies so far we have explored how cafés may foster the local participation of migrants through attentive listenership during storytelling and through multilingual practices that emphasize the importance of establishing intersubjectivity.

These studies show how the volunteers’ behavior in the co-constructed interaction can support the migrants’ stance and their identity as conversational partners. At the same time, studies conducted with a conversation analytic lens have allowed us to track how participants (both volunteers and visitors) do incidental vocabulary work by requesting or offering vocabulary explanations, even during activities that do not have an explicit language focus. Overall, these studies show how participants understand the concept of “language training” in the informal setting of language cafés.