PhD in Second Language Studies Dissertation Defense
Occasioned Storytelling in Persian Language Classroomss
Chair: Gabriele Kasper
Wednesday May 8, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Moore Hall, 155A
The use of stories as pedagogical tools in second language (L2) classrooms has a longstanding research tradition (e.g. Huang, 2006; Inal & Cakir, 2014). In these studies, stories are deployed as prepackaged instructional tools that are incorporated into lesson plans and embedded in the overall pedagogical concept. However, the ways in which stories figure as naturally occurring activities in L2 classroom interaction remains an understudied research topic. This investigation utilizes a conversation analytic approach in which storytelling is viewed as a social, situated activity that is locally occasioned, collaboratively accomplished, and interactionally consequential. Specifically, the study examines how impromptu stories unfold during ongoing instructional activities and what actions they accomplish in L2 classroom settings.
The data come from 37 hours of videorecorded intermediate and advanced Persian classes at two North American universities. For analysis, multimodal conversation analysis (Mondada, 2014) and membership categorization analysis (Sacks, 1972; Fitzgerald & Housley, 2015; Hester & Eglin, 1997) are combined to examine the sequential and categorial production of stories told by teachers and students.
In the corpus of stories told by the teachers, stories are launched in first position to exemplify, elaborate, or extend upon the ongoing pedagogical project, and in second position to provide counter examples and accounts, or to reject or accept students’ proposals. In contrast, students’ stories begin in responsive positions to accomplish actions such as giving accounts and bringing their cultural competencies and membership knowledge to the forefront. The findings also demonstrate that stories typically orient to the current pedagogical agenda or accomplish a particular instructional action. The study enhances applied linguistic knowledge about storytelling as a social practice in ongoing classroom interaction and thus contributes to the large field of second language classroom research. It also contributes to the scant research literature on instruction in Persian as a foreign language and begins to place pedagogical practice in the teaching of Persian on an empirical footing.