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Hawai‘i Imin International Conference Center
University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i

17th International Conference on Pragmatics & Language Learning


Junko Mori, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Since the publication of the seminal paper by Firth and Wagner (1997), the last decade has seen a growing attention to the methodological framework of conversation analysis (CA) in the study of second language use and acquisition (e.g., Gardner and Wagner, 2004; Markee, 2000, 2004; Richards and Seedhouse, 2005; Schegloff, et al, 2002; Seedhouse, 2004).  These CA informed studies have presented detailed analysis of interactions involving second language speakers and renewed our appreciation of the contexts and identities that are constructed by the participants’ interactional practices in a moment-by-moment fashion.  While CA has been acknowledged as a powerful tool to explicate learning opportunities locally constituted in interaction, however, it still remains controversial as to whether or not CA is a suitable methodology for documenting language acquisition.  This debate raises the fundamental questions concerning the conceptualization of “the object of learning” and “the learning process”.  To borrow Larsen-Freeman’s (2004) words, is the object of learning “a priori target rules and structures being assimilated by the individual mind” or “evolving bond between the individual and others—becoming a member of a community”?  In other words, should learning be discussed in terms of “having or gaining some knowledge” or in terms of “doing or becoming able to do something with the language”?

This presentation addresses these questions by reviewing 1) the fundamental principles of CA as a sociological methodology and its view of “competence” 2) the intersection of CA and discourse-functional and cognitive linguistics that promotes use-based grammar; and 3) the CA-informed studies of second language conversation published in the last decade vis-à-vis the first two items in this list.  Through this process, the presenter aims to identify future agenda as well as limitations in the application of CA to the study of second language learning.


Junko Mori is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches Japanese language and applied linguistics.  She is the author of Negotiating Agreement and Disagreement in Japanese: Connective Expressions and Turn Construction (1999, John Benjamins) and the recipient of the 2003 ACTFL/MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education.  Her publications have appeared in various edited volumes as well as journals such as Applied Linguistics, Journal of Pragmatics, Modern Language Journal, Research on Language and Social Interaction, among others. She is currently editing a book titled Japanese Applied Linguistics: Discourse and Social Approaches (forthcoming, Continuum) with Amy S. Ohta. Her research interests center on the application of the methodological framework of ‘conversation analysis’ to the study of talk-in-interaction involving first and second language speakers of Japanese. 


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