LINGUIST List 27.1798

Mon Apr 18 2016

Review: Applied Ling; Discourse; Lang Acq: Sert (2015)

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <>

Date: 22-Dec-2015
From: Andrea Lypka <>
Subject: Social Interaction in L2 Classroom Discourse
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Book announced at

AUTHOR: Oljay Sert
TITLE: Social Interaction in L2 Classroom Discourse
SERIES TITLE: Studies in Social Interaction
PUBLISHER: Edinburgh University Press
YEAR: 2015

REVIEWER: Andrea Eniko Lypka, University of South Florida

Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


Through a close analysis of second language (L2) classroom talk from a social
interactionist perspective, Social Interaction and L2 Classroom Discourse by
Olcay Sert investigates the complex relationship between second language
acquisition (SLA) and interaction in instructed L2 learning settings. Using
Conversational Analysis (CA) methodology, a micro-analytic approach, the
author examines both verbal and nonverbal aspects in moment-by-moment
teacher-student talk in foreign language (FL) and English as an additional
language (EAL) contexts. The turn-by-turn examination of interactions with
emphasis on epistemic (i.e. learner’s claims of knowledge or lack of
knowledge), nonverbal (e.g., gaze, head nods, hand gestures, and visual
artifacts), and multilingual (e.g., code-switching or code-mixing) resources
highlights various practices enacted to make meaning and construct knowledge.

The book is part of the Studies in Social Interaction Series edited by Steve
Walsh, Paul Seedhouse, and Christopher Jenks. It contains nine chapters and is
divided into three sections. The first section surveys research and theory
related to L2 classroom discourse, L2 Classroom Interactional Competence
(CIC), and CA in SLA (Chapters 2-3), following the list of abbreviations of
key terms and introduction chapter. Chapters 4-6 analyze various L2
interactional troubles, such as claims of insufficient knowledge, silence, and
unwillingness to participate. The author offers guidelines to manage claims of
knowledge/insufficient knowledge. Resources to mediate learning and teaching
and enhance participation include the adoption of hand gestures in tandem with
linguistic explanations and code switching, among others. Following the
analysis, pedagogical implications for L2 classrooms and language teacher
education are provided in the third section (Chapters 7-8). The book concludes
with future directions for research.

The first chapter introduces the notion of L2 learning as socialization
process. Specifically, Sert defines “L2 classroom” discourse as scripted
interaction to negotiate identity and co-construct knowledge “in and through
the use of language-in-interaction” (p. 9) and using epistemic, multimodal,
and multilingual resources. In addition to definitions of L2, instructed
language learning contexts, and L2 classroom discourse, the chapter surveys
CA, its methodological strengths in L2 classroom discourse, and CA-SLA
intersections. This chapter also provides an overview of the significance of
this study, data, and structure of the book.

Chapter 2 foregrounds the notions of social interaction and CA in L2 classroom
discourse. The author provides a comprehensive survey of the field of L2
classroom discourse through theoretical frameworks, such as systemic
functional linguistics and sociocultural theory, and evaluates methodological
approaches, such as discourse analysis and CA. Drawing on his evaluation of
diverse methodological approaches he argues that through CA or a turn-by-turn
examination of interactional structures, micro-details of
meaning-making-in-action can be traced, including strategies employed by the
teacher to repair, correct, or elicit information or by the student to display
(lack of) knowledge or misalignment with pedagogical goals.

From a CA perspective, Chapter 3 brings together a review of literature on
epistemic, multimodal, and multilingual aspects displayed by interactants to
mediate learning and co-construct meaning in instructional learning contexts.
Awareness of these resources can help teachers promote L2 learning or CIC
(Walsh, 2006). In addition to operationalizing key concepts, a growing body of
research is synthesized to identify research gaps and assess the relevance of
L2 classroom discourse with focus on non-linguistic resources, such as gaze
orientations, pointing gestures, and head nods (Kääntä, 2012; Kupetz, 2011;
Mortensen, 2008) as well as code-switching and language choice (Bani-Shoraka &
Jansson, 2007; Üstünel & Seedhouse, 2005).

Through microanalysis of classroom talk examples in the UK, Luxembourg, and
Turkey, Chapters 4- 6 complement the survey section. These chapters illustrate
how interactants display nonverbal features, including epistemic (Chapter 4),
multimodal (Chapter 5), and multilingual (Chapter 6), and the pedagogical
consequences of these cues in various L2 learning contexts. Using turn-by-turn
analysis of detailed transcripts of audio-visual data, examples of various
interactional troubles that hinder participation and successful management of
interactions that lead to learning are provided to illustrate the
interactional, social constructed nature of teaching and learning.

Chapter 4 turns attention to how students initiate insufficient knowledge
through verbal (e.g. ‘I don’t know.’) and nonverbal behavior, such as
headshakes and raising eyebrows in classroom interactions, and how these
troubles can be managed through the teacher’s orientation to this claim by
allocating the turn to another learner and combining gestures with vocabulary
explanations. For example, in excerpt 4.9 (p. 80), following a learner’s claim
of insufficient knowledge, the teacher discusses the vocabulary item ‘mutter’
in an 11th grade class in Luxembourg by combining hand gestures to illustrate
the notion of “fading away” and explaining the word in the target language
(English). His effective use of gesture prompts the learner to produce a
whispering sound to demonstrate understanding of the word ‘mutter.’ Further
examples of the role of particular gestures, such as hand to ear to address
hearing or understanding troubles are also analyzed to demonstrate that L2
learning involves negotiation of meaning between interactants through verbal
and nonverbal cues.

Chapter 5 investigates the role of multilingual resources to resolve troubles
in L2 learning, including language choice, the use of translations, and L1- L2
mixing. For example, the excerpt on page 114 from a corpus of video-recorded
data from kindergarten EFL classes in Turkey highlights how teachers combine
teacher initiated translation and code-switching with visual artifacts
(Powerpoint slides with fruit pictures and real objects) in repetition drills
of vocabulary related to fruits in English. Other examples illustrate how
multilingual resources could be employed by teachers to position learners as
language experts and enhance L2 communication. These resources can be used to
request choral repetition, paraphrasing or induce learners’ code switching to
elicit or clarify meaning. For example, extract 6. 4. (p. 120) in an EFL
classroom in Luxembourg illustrates how a teacher initiates the German (L1)
translation (‘einsam’) for the word ‘lonely’ to explain differences between
two L2 words, ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’ in the target language (English). By using
L1 translation resource, the teacher could increase participation by asking
students to explain the connotations of these words in the target language,
instead of providing students verbal explanation in the target language.

Drawing on these analyses and examples, the next two chapters are devoted to
practical implications for L2 classrooms (Chapter 7) and teacher education
programs (Chapter 8).

In Chapter 7, drawing on Walsh (2011, 2012), L2 learning in instructional
contexts can be maximized by “using language convergent to the pedagogical
goal, maximizing space for learning, shaping learner contributions, and
effective eliciting are effective displays of CIC [classroom interactional
competence]” (p. 155). In addition to these characteristics, Sert provides
evidence on how combining CA methodology with reflective tools can help
teachers track management of epistemic, multimodal, and multilingual resources
in the L2 classroom.

Chapter 8 presents a five-step framework for a L2 teacher education model
based on CA and CIC, drawing on self-reflections, observations, written
feedback on participants’ teaching performance, and lesson plans collected in
a preservice EFL program in Turkey. In the first phase of this model,
preservice teachers are introduced to the basics of L2 classroom interaction
competence by reading and discussing relevant literature. Next, preservice
teachers create a lesson plan and conduct a video-recorded micro-teaching. In
step three, after transcribing sequences of teaching and analyzing transcripts
and feedback from a teacher educator, preservice teachers reflect on their
micro-teaching. Finally, after conducting a video-recorded teaching session in
real classrooms, they transcribe and analyze this session with teachers and
peers, using CA.

The book concludes with a discussion about research ethics and future research
directions. To complement cognitive based approaches to SLA, the author calls
for more research that examines the relationships among epistemic, multimodal,
and multilingual modes in various L2 classrooms using multimodal CA of
longitudinal data.


The aim of Social Interaction and L2 Classroom Discourse is to explore
multimodal L2 classroom discourse with a focus on CIC and L2 learning, using a
micro-level analysis of talk-in-interaction. The emphasis on close examination
of both verbal and nonverbal aspects of interactions enriches understanding of
the dynamic and relational nature of L2 learning in formal learning in
bilingual and multilingual contexts. The author argues that awareness of the
way L2 learners orient to multimodal resources in interactions, such as head
or body orientation, and multilingual resources, such as code-switching or
language alternation, are key to understanding L2 learning in institutional
settings. The detailed analysis, reconceptualization of L2 classroom
interaction through verbal and nonverbal features, and the inclusion of data
from various L2 learning contexts, including language tasters, EFL classrooms,
and L2 teacher education programs in the UK, Turkey, and Luxembourg provide a
nuanced understanding of how L2 learning and teaching collaboratively unfold.
By connecting theory, research, and practice, using clear language and data
collected in various institutional L2 learning contexts, the book provides
alternative insights about the complexity of L2 learning and the implications
for researchers and practitioners.

Approaches in this book, a multidimensional approach to L2 learning and
teaching and a CA-based multimodal analysis of L2 classroom discourse, have
been less adopted in SLA inquiry. In addition to analytic focus on linguistic
features, the detailed transcripts from audio-visual data capture
nonlinguistic cues of L2 learning, such as gaze, smile, and hand gestures. In
addition to gestures and gaze, multimodality can be expanded to visual and
artistic representations, such as drama, creative writing, digital
storytelling, as well as L2 classroom interactions on Second Life and Google
Hangouts (Balaman, 2015).

Though the book does not explicate the basics of the CA paradigm (for an
introduction to CA in Applied Linguistics research, see Sert & Seedhouse,
2011), the overview of CA in SLA is comprehensible for novice researchers and
practitioners. For example, Chapter 2 provides an in-depth discussion about
the methodological strengths of CA and transcription conventions to capture
diverse forms of interaction, verbal and nonverbal features, such as gaze,
walking away, and head orientation, and temporality. In addition to discussion
on methodology and transcription, the author contextualizes each excerpt by
providing details about the L2 classroom demographics, seating arrangement,
curriculum, and learning objective. Transcript extracts contain linguistic and
non-linguistic aspects employed by teachers and learners, such as phonetic
transcriptions for analytically important items, gaze, gestures, and
orientation to classroom artifacts among others that enrich understanding of
multimodality of L2 learning. Transcripts are also accompanied by figures to
track gaze and gestures in the moment of interactions. Such features provide
opportunities for the reader to revisit and reanalyze various excerpts.

Although the explanation of the various data sets is comprehensive, a more
in-depth discussion about the creation of data corpus, the primary goal of the
initial data collection, the data extraction for analysis, and researcher
reflexivity would help the reader unpack the data collection process,
including the selection of discursive data for analysis in this book.

The data collected in intermediate-level classrooms with young literate
learners, in kindergarten, K-12, and L2 teacher education settings don’t not
address L2 learning in other instructional settings, such as community- or
faith based L2 learning. There might be other L2 learning patterns in adult L2
classrooms with learners on various levels of L2 proficiency and literacy.
Drawing on the theoretical and analytical frameworks in this book, future
research could emphasize how learner awareness on epistemic, multimodal and
multilingual resources can enhance agency and motivation in both formal and
informal L2 learning settings using longitudinal data. More research should
examine how multilingual language learners with low literacy make meaning in
their L2 in English as a Second Language (ESL) and EFL contexts.

Beyond insightful analysis of various multimodal interactions using CA,
pedagogical implications for both L2 classrooms and teacher education programs
are discussed in-depth, drawing on excerpts showcased in the analysis section.
The analyses of extracts in Chapters 4-6 reveal “micro-moments of teaching
and learning” (p. 81) or the interrelationship between interactions and
pedagogical practices by showcasing both successful and less successful
management of L2 learning. Language learning phenomena, such as code
switching, and the use of multilingual resources are showcased within relevant
and up-to-date references, excerpts, and analyses of excerpts. Drawing on the
methodological strengths of CA and findings, in Chapter 8, the author provides
a CA-based model for L2 teacher programs. Sert provides a case study of a
female preservice teacher in an L2 teacher education program in Turkey to
illustrate the participant’s evolving language awareness and CIC over time.
Using CA, the author traces the participant's evolving CIC in her reflections
on her micro teaching, lesson plans, teacher observations, actual teaching,
and feedback from her teaching mentor. Findings reveal that the participant’s
CA analysis of her teaching transcripts, reflection on her teaching, and
feedback from her mentor maximized her teacher development. The author
proposes the framework based on CA, CIC, and reflection as a model for other
L2 teacher programs and calls for more research in this field.

By combining research and practice, this book is a comprehensive resource for
in-service L2 teacher development projects and L2 language teacher education
programs. Teacher educators could adopt examples and transcripts of excerpts
along with visual phenomena from the book for analysis, discussion, and
reflection with pre-service teachers to enable understanding of L2 learning in
various contexts. The discussion of research ethics in Chapter 9, the detailed
analyses in Chapters 4-6, and the CA orientation, make this book invaluable
for qualitative research, CA, and/ or SLA courses.


Balaman, U. (2015). Collaborative construction of online L2 task
accomplishment through epistemic progression. Procedia-Social and Behavioral
Sciences, 199, 604-612.

Bani-Shoraka, H., & Jansson, G. (2007). Bilingual practices in the process of
initiating and resolving lexical problems in students' collaborative writing
sessions. International Journal of Bilingualism, 11(2), 157.

Kääntä, L. (2012). Teachers’ embodied allocations in instructional
interaction. Classroom Discourse, 3(2), 166-186.

Kupetz, M. (2011). Multimodal resources in students’ explanations in CLIL
interaction. Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language), 5(1),121-141.
Retrieved from kupetz.pdf

Mortensen, K. (2008).Selecting next-speaker in the second language classroom:
How to find a willing next-speaker in planned activities. Journal of Applied
Linguistics, 5(1), 55-79.

Sert, O., & Seedhouse, P. (2011). Introduction: Conversation Analysis in
Applied Linguistics. Novitas-ROYAL (Research on Youth and Language), 5(1),
1-14. Retrieved from

Sert, O. (2015). Social interaction and L2 classroom discourse. Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press.

Üstünel, E., & Seedhouse, P. (2005). Why that, in that language, right now?
Code‐switching and pedagogical focus. International Journal of Applied
Linguistics, 15(3), 302-325.

Walsh, S. (2011). Exploring classroom discourse: Language in action. London:

Walsh, S. (2006). Investigating classroom discourse. New York: Routledge.


Andrea Lypka is a PhD Candidate in the Second Language Acquisition and
Instructional Technology (SLA/IT) program at the University of South Florida
(USF). Her research interests include motivation, learner identity and agency,
and digital storytelling. Correspondence regarding this book review can be
addressed directly to: Andrea Lypka at,

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