Helping Students Pass the Turing Test

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John Campbell-Larsen, Momoyama Gakuin University


Spoken language consists of more than just correctly formed propositional utterances placed one after another. Rather, speakers orient towards an interactional role and construct turns that are delicately shaped by the previous speaker’s turn and designed to move the interaction forward. In this paper I describe some of the ways in which students can orient away from an institutional identity towards a more interactional, natural way of speaking. I refer to video data of student conversations to show some of the characteristics of Japanese students’ speaking and discuss the content and methodology of lessons designed to promote a more interactional kind of talk. I conclude by suggesting that a focus on such interactional skills as backchanneling and use of discourse markers set within a framework of autonomy in speaking can help students to create an interactional identity in English.