Turn Taking

Turn taking/Lost in numbers | Alex | June 10th, 2004

Hi,

I 've just started reading for my IIC assignment that focuses on the differences between turn taking in natural conversation and classroom interaction (task completion) comparing native speakers and students who have performed the same tasks. I found little data so I'd be grateful to anyone who can contribute either by recommending any books/articles or by making any comments based on personal observations.

Reflecting on what I've read about qualitative and quantitative data -mostly in the list, thanks to all of you who contributed- I tried to figure out what kind of data led me to choose this topic. I think that keeping a class diary and recording lessons which are essential qualitative research tools helped a lot to come up with some quantitative data which in this case was that my students take turns in pair or group work activities mostly  when they are directly selected or asked by the speaker. So, looking over the qualitative data enabled me to make a remark but I had to take into account quantification in order to avoid wrong generalizations.

Therefore, I agree with Sarah that keeping a balance is essential.

Best wishes,

Alex

Re: IIC: turn taking | Jerry Talandis Jr. | June 11th, 2004

Hi Alex,

You wrote:

I 've just started reading for my IIC assignment which focuses on the differences between turn taking in natural conversation and classroom interaction (task completion) comparing native speakers and students who have performed the same tasks. I found little data so I'd be grateful to anyone who can contribute either by recommending any books/articles or by making any comments based on personal observations.

You said you "found little data." Does this mean that you were not able to record many classes or find any good examples of what you were looking for? In that case, then perhaps you may need to rethink your assignment focus and just take what you can out of what you managed to collect. Or, do you mean you couldn't find any references or background information? My hunch is this is the case (given your request for recommended books or articles), but I just want to make sure.

I'll assume the latter is the case, and that you just need more references and some points of view. Off hand, I don't know of any good books or articles to recommend. But, that doesn't mean they are not out there. What have you done so far? Do you have one good article that has some references in the back you can follow up on? For my IIC assignment (on email), I've found tons of stuff on the net by using the Google search engine. Often I start out looking for one thing, then end up finding other stuff by accident. I've also used my Athens password successfully several times to grab stuff, and in one case I emailed an author directly. His article was not available on via Athens, so he kindly sent it to me directly! That was totally awesome. Finding reference materials is like being a detective- you have to keep digging and chasing after clues and leads.

As far as personal observations go, I'd have to say my experience here in Japan mirrors what you've found where you live (Greece?). In Japan, students are often trained to stay quiet and speak only when spoken to (and often not even then!). Watching my students in group conversation activities, I often see that the only people speaking are those that are addressed specifically. I'm trying to change this by teaching them conversation strategies such as shadowing, showing interest, and responding. It's slow going, but they are getting better.

Could you provide more of an example of what you have found to be common?

Jerry

Re: IIC turn taking | Alex | June 11th, 2004

Hi Jerry,

Now, as for "found little data", I meant both literature and relevant parts of recordings. I'm basing my assignment mainly on recordings of two Greek-American girls who live in Greece and although they are fluent in English I'm not sure about their cultural identity.

What I mean is that I wonder if people from different cultures share same discourse strategies. For instance, Greeks tend to complete the other speaker's sentence acknowledging in that way that they follow the conversation. Could that be considered rude? You already mentioned that Japanese do not talk if they are not addressed directly. How do they respond in natural conversations with Japanese friends?

Alex

Re: IIC turn taking | Mike McDonald | June 11th, 2004

Alex wrote:

You already mentioned that Japanese do not talk if they are not addressed directly.   How do they respond in natural conversations with Japanese friends?

Hi. I hope you don't mind me butting in on this conversation. I did my IIC assignment on handling Japanese students' reticence, and found an interesting analysis of Japanese people's ways of interacting in an article by Paul Doyon (2000). Writing in The Language Teacher, 24 (1), pp. 11-16, in an article entitled "Shyness in the Japanese EFL class: Why it is a problem, what it is, what causes it, and what to do about it", he quotes a book by Takie Lebra (1976) entitled "Japanese patterns of behavior". Lebra claims that Japanese interactions can be categorized into three principal domains:

a.   The ritual domain, characterized by formal, guarded behavior

b.   The intimate domain, characterized by relaxed, spontaneous behavior

c.   The anomic domain, characterized by social distance and lack of concern

Going back to Jerry's remark that Japanese students tend not to talk "on record" unless addressed directly, we might say that this is because classroom interactions typically take place in the ritual domain.

On the other hand, to answer your question, in natural conversations with close Japanese friends, they typically interact in the intimate domain - that is, they express their thoughts and feelings relatively freely. Of course, there are still constraints in most friendships, including seniority, desire for harmony, dependence, and so on, but these operate to some extent in all societies.

Have a good weekend,

Mike McDonald

Re: IIC turn taking | Jerry Talandis Jr. | June 12th, 2004

Hi Alex,

You wrote:

Greeks tend to complete the other speaker's sentence acknowledging in that way that they follow the conversation. Could that be considered rude? You already mentioned that Japanese do not talk if they are not addressed directly.    How do they respond in natural conversations with Japanese friends?

Well, I haven't seen people around here finishing each other's sentences, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Would it be rude? I think that depends on the situation and people involved. Things are so hierarchical here that if someone low on the scale interrupts someone higher up, I could see that as being rude. But, with friends or family? I don't think so.

About how Japanese folks talk to each other- basically, what Mike said. He's got it nailed. Around friends, folks here are "natural", and with family, I'd say even downright rude (based on my experience!). But, out in the working world, it's a totally different scene- like night and day. Everything is straight-laced, professional. Isn't this the same (more or less) everywhere, though?

Jerry

Re: IIC turn taking | Alex | June 12th, 2004

Hi Mike,

It seems that your teaching situation is much different to mine! I think these types of behavior can be met in any culture at a certain extent. However, at least in Greek classrooms there is not such homogeneity of behavior.

Alex

Re: IIC turn taking | Joe Alvaro | June 13th, 2004

Hi, Alexandra.

It is interesting that you are doing something from a cultural perspective. I finished my IIC paper 2 months ago on a cultural interaction thing between Asians & westerners. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot of new stuff. In my reading I came across these references (below) to Greek-style interaction, which seems to have attracted sociolinguistic attention for one reason or another.

I remembered them right away when I read your note. Hope they can be of help.

Good luck to you and the others working on getting their papers in within the next 3 weeks.

Joe Alvaro
China

Tannen, D. & Kakava, C. 1992. Power and Solidarity in Modern Greek conversation: Disagreeing to agree. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 19:12-29.

Kakava, Christina 1989. Argumentative conversation in a Greek family . Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, Washington, DC.

Sifianou, Maria 1992. The use of diminutives in expressing politeness: Modern Greek versus English. Journal of Pragmatics 17:2.155-73

 

Archive Categories