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Title: An investigation into multimodal identity construction in the EFL classroom : a social and cultural viewpoint
Author: Stone, Paul David
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 8046
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2017
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In communicative and task-based classrooms learners spend much of their time in interactions with one another, and it is through the practices of small-group and pair work that many learners experience language education. The present study aims to shed light on what learners do when engaged in these small-group interactions in Japanese university EFL classrooms. In particular, the study aims to shed light on the relationship between identities, interaction practices and potentials for learning. One of the motivations for doing this project is that, while much research has investigated teacher-student interactions, less attention has been paid to peer interactions in the classroom, and our understandings of learners' interactions with one another are arguably less developed than our understandings of their interactions with the teacher. The findings of this study should be of interest to practicing teachers who wish to gain insights into how learners in small groups organize their classroom practices, as well as researchers investigating classroom interaction. Analysing two groups of 15 participants over one university semester, the approach that I adopted was informed by the methodological framework of Multimodal Interaction Analysis, which combines moment-by-moment analysis of interactions with an ethnographic approach to data collection. The interaction analysis also made use of concepts and tools from Conversation Analysis. This allowed me to come to understandings not only about the structure of classrooms interactions, including turn-taking and repair practices, but also about the learners as social beings. The study found that participants often followed predictable turn-taking practices in small-group interactions, which gave the interactions a fairly 'monologic' character. However, it also found that, over the course of the semester, certain participants began to perform off-task personal conversations in English, which more resembled the sort of conversational talk found outside of the classroom. These conversations provided students with opportunities to negotiate meaning in more dialogic interactions in which they performed a wider range of actions, which also included some use of the L1. I argue that this personal talk can play an important role in the language classroom, and suggest that teachers may need to rethink attitudes to off-task talk and also to learners' use of the L1 in the classroom. This was a localized study of just two groups of learners, and further research would thus be needed to confirm how far we can generalize these findings. Furthermore, more research is needed to investigate whether or not the learning opportunities provided in off-task classroom conversations actually do lead to long-term learning.
Supervisor: Kleine Staarman, Judith ; Jones, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: EFL ; Classroom interaction ; Identity ; Multimodal discourse analysis ; Conversation Analysis