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Title: The enabler : facilitating next-speaker selection in L2 group oral assessments
Authors: Al Abbas, Reem Hassanali
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: To support the academic and linguistic adjustment of international students using English as a second language (L2) in the UK, many universities provide access to pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. Despite this widespread use of group oral assessments in presessional contexts in Europe and North America, much research on such assessments stems from Asian settings (e.g. Greer and Potter, 2008; Leyland et al., 2016). This study uses Conversation Analysis (CA) to examine the interactional unfolding of group oral assessments involving international students in a university-affiliated EAP institution in the UK. Data comprises of 19 video recorded group oral assessments, each lasting 3 to 4 minutes and involving 3 to 4 international students. To date, CA research on such assessments has identified various important interactional phenomena, such as the ways test-takers engage with peers’ ideas (Z. Gan, 2010), test-takers’ impression management (Luk, 2010) and language proficiency identities (Lazaraton and Davis, 2008). The current study builds on this work and focuses on the under-examined issue of nextspeaker selection; the ways test-takers manage the shift from one speaker to the next for extended turns. In particular, this study reveals the ways one test-taker adopts the role of ‘enabler’ by facilitating the shift from one speaker’s extended turn to another speaker’s extended turn. The enabler’s work is required (i) when one test-taker struggles to select another speaker, (ii) when a test-taker struggles to select him/herself, and (iii) to select a thus-far quiet student who does not display recipiency. As these enabling actions are achieved through the manipulation of a series of vocal and embodied actions, the current study draws upon recent thinking in multimodality in interaction (e.g. Streeck et al., 2011; Mondada, 2016). The findings of this study contribute to research on interaction in group oral assessments by revealing the ways test-takers work to enable the successful distribution of extended turns of talk across participants. This study also adds to an important bridge between research on L2 testing and multimodality, highlighting the ways participants rely upon gaze, gesture and talk to ensure the selection of the next-primary-speaker.
Description: Ph. D. (Integrated)
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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