Making teacher talk comprehensible through language alternation practices

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This study reports the ways in which students and their teacher co-manage the interactional problems resulting from a lack of understanding of the teacher's instructions produced in the second language (L2) through language alternation practices. The study draws on data from two Italian as a Foreign Language lessons in an Australian high school involving students aged 13-14 at an A2 (CEFR) level of proficiency. Analysis shows: (1) how the teacher ascribed "expected" knowledge states to students as a class and to students as individuals; (2) how the teacher packaged her instructions multimodally and switched to students' first language (L1) only as a last resort; and (3) how students availed themselves of serendipitous opportunities presented in the context to build their understanding of Italian as the medium of instruction in order to successfully answer the teacher's questions or to follow instructions without having to admit that they did not know what was being asked of them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConversation Analysis and Language Alternation
Subtitle of host publicationCapturing Transitions in the Classroom
EditorsAnna Filipi, Numa Markee
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789027263575
ISBN (Print)9789027201409
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NamePragmatics and Beyond New Series
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)0922-842X


  • Conversation analysis
  • Italian as a Foreign Language
  • Language alternation
  • Medium of classroom instruction
  • Multimodality
  • Target language use policy
  • Transitions

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