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"What shall we start with" - Conversation openings in eTandems

Yasmin El-Hariri, Julia Renner

We are naturally tempted to focus on the ‘core’ of a conversation, however, openings and closings build the frame of a conversation where the relationship between the speakers, the setting, and the purpose of the conversation is negotiated. Conversation openings have been of interest from the very beginning of Conversation Analysis (Schegloff 1968). From a CA point of view they provide essential information on how the speakers themselves interpret the situation (Deppermann 2008).

In our paper we focus on conversation openings in a particular setting: multimodal oral-visual eTandems. eTandem Language Learning is an approach, where two learners with different languages learn from and with each other by communicating via the Internet. Situated between everyday conversation and communication for the purpose of language learning (Bechtel 2003), eTandems constitute a very specific setting for language learning.

Drawing on data of Chinese – German and Spanish – German eTandems we show how conversation openings are constructed in this particular setting. Further, we touch on questions of language choice and topic negotiation, which are often subject to the beginning of eTandem conversations.

Institut für Lehrer*innenbildung, Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften, Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
ÖFOS 2012
503029 Sprachlehrforschung
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