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Interactional competence
Conversational narratives
Narrative roles
Second language learners
Issue Date: 
Lwin, S. M. (2012). Developing interactional competence through conversational narratives. The Internet Journal of Language, Culture and Society, (35), 90-99.
This study explores the possibilities of using conversational narratives and their participation structures to help second language (L2) learners develop their interactional competence. Helping L2 learners develop their interactional competence has been a challenge due to the social and interpersonal complexity as well as heavy cognitive and linguistic demands on the learners to be able to participate in an extended talk like a conversational narrative (Cameron, 2001). In this study, a total of twelve conversational narratives co-constructed by two learners of English as a second language (ESL) and their instructor during an informal speech event were examined. Different narrative roles of protagonist, introducer, primary recipient, problematizer and problematizee (Ochs & Taylor, 2001) distributed among the three participants were identified and discussed to understand the kind of interactional work each participant was doing as they assumed certain narrative roles. In particular, the narrative roles assumed by the instructor while creating opportunities for the learners to participate effectively in the on-going conversation were highlighted. The findings have implications for developing L2 learners' interactional competence, such as explicit teaching of narrative roles and dynamics of a conversational narrative to L2 learners, and the instructor's sensitivity to the learner's cultural background in giving the responsibility to meet the social demands of the interaction at hand.
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