Ordering Fast Food: Service Encounters in Real-Life Interaction and in Textbook Dialogs

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Hanh thi Nguyen, Hawaii Pacific University; Noriko Ishitobi, Nagoya Municipal Ueda Junior High School


In this paper we compare authentic fast-food ordering transactions with EFL textbook dialogs in order to assist teachers and materials writers in the development of students’ communication skills. Using conversation analysis (CA) and drawing on the concepts of communicative competence and interactional competence, we first provide a detailed description of a small sample of real-life transactions and then compare these with the dialogs in textbooks used in Japan, including some successive editions. We demonstrate that the textbook dialogs differ from the recorded real-life interactions in the sequencing of actions and completeness of actions. In the context of the findings, we suggest implications for language teaching and materials development.