|Title||The Maintenance of mutual understanding in online second language talk|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Second Language Acquisition, Language and Social Interaction, Conversation Analysis, Computer-Mediated Communication|
Encounters in which at least one person is communicating in a second language (L2)are increasingly prevalent, and span many contexts and settings. However many of these settings remain under-researched, particularly those outside of formal languageeducation (Firth & Wagner 1997, 2007; Wagner 2004). One such under-exploredsetting is the internet. In one particular internet context, L2 users of English havetaken the opportunity to create voice-based chat rooms in which participants canpractice their use of English. In such chat rooms, despite the huge variety inbackgrounds and proficiencies, participants prove themselves to be highly skilled,resourceful and competent interactants, able to ensure mutual understanding asconsistently and regularly as would be expected from first language users. However,as with any context involving any kind of interactants, there are occasions on whichthis mutual understanding appears to come under threat.This study applies conversation analysis (CA) to the examination of audiorecordings of these online, voice-based chat rooms. More specifically, it provides afine detailed examination of the work which is put in by the participants in order topre-empt, and/or overcome, possible threats to mutual understanding (or‘intersubjectivity’). Analysis show how participants are at times sensitive to such threats when dealing with (1) unspecified trouble in talk and (2) an absence of response to talk. Additionally, it is demonstrated how they draw upon availableresources, in the absence of shared physical co-presence, in order to deal withpotential trouble.In presenting this data and its analysis, the study adds to understanding of L2interaction, as well as to technologically-mediated interactions in which participantsare not physically co-present. The study also addresses interaction research in general,by discussing the multi-faceted nature of many conversational contexts, and issuesthis raises in their analyses.