Girl Talk: A Dialogic Approach to Oral Narrative Storytelling Analysis in English As a Foreign Language Research
The University of Arizona
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching
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Research in the fields of Applied Linguistics (AL) and Second Language Studies (SLS) has begun addressing the ways in which second and foreign language (L2) use is a “material” struggle to understand, acquire and author L2 words for one’s own creative purposes – particularly in the face of ideologies about language learning and language use (Squires 2008; Suni 2014). This struggle has implications for the subjectivity, agency and ultimate acquisition and use of the target language by L2 users. This dissertation seeks to augment scholarship in this area by demonstrating how material struggle can surface in the process of data collection (a research interview). It presents an analysis of a recorded narrative of an English as a foreign language (EFL) user, who was a second year graduate student enrolled in a university in the southwest US. She was invited by the author -- a native speaker of English -- to tell an oral narrative story in English to a group with whom she met regularly. However, in positioning the EFL subject as “non-native” in the recruitment process, the author as a native speaker failed to anticipate the manner in which her request was interpellative (Althusser 1971), thus reproducing and subjecting the “non-native” to the ideology and discourses associated with that category and setting into motion a creative authoring of response to this interpellative call. In approaching the analysis from this perspective, this dissertation adopts an approach to oral narrative story analysis that is based on the Bakhtinian-inspired notion of dialogism (Bakhtin 1981, 1986). Dialogism underscores the resultant narrative as a collection of utterances poised to respond to the request to “tell a story,” while simultaneously addressing the ideology and discourses associated with this request. Additionally, the analysis explores the dialogic nature of the narrative from the standpoint of “tellability” (Norrick 2005; Ochs and Capps 2001), thus highlighting aspects of the narrative that render this tale of friendship, an extramarital affair and a friend “in hatred” meaningful in the context of its telling. Guided by an interest in Bakhtinian dialogism and driven by a concern for narrative tellability, three differing, yet complimentary, analyses of the narrative are explored: 1) ‐ 9 ‐ genre, register and vague (“vaguely gendered”) language, 2) face work, framing and cooperation and 3) gossip, stance and the representation of speech and voice. These analyses likewise uncover three themes that underlie the narrative context of the tale. These themes are: the backgrounding of nativeness and foregrounding of gender, the simultaneous and ambiguous struggle for solidarity and power, and the display of personal style through moral stance in the presentation of a continuous self over time and place. The implication of this work for future research and assessment in AL and SLS is addressed.
Thomas, M. (2014). Girl Talk: A Dialogic Approach to Oral Narrative Storytelling Analysis in English as a Foreign Language Research. PHD Dissertation. University of Arizona.
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