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Ways of talking Halkomelem: interaction in classroom procedural talk

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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The dissertation is an empirical report of the language used in four different types of classrooms (language review, language immersion, linguistics, mentoring) in which one dialect of the endangered Salish language Halkomelem was being taught and learned. A conversation analysis approach was used to examine the interactional patterns of turn-taking and repair by the different participants (elders, instructors, students, researcher) while they were engaged in two types of procedural talk: setting up (and repairing) procedure, and doing a justification of the task and the procedure. One primary finding is that consensus on what is provisionally target-like, or useable, rests upon a co-present elder taking a critical role in the classroom process. Learner access to the elder is reflected in varying amounts and complexity of learner target language use. Consequently, participants have adapted some usual classroom interactional choices of turn-taking and repair that reflect the particular constraints and challenges of an endangered language context, and facilitate using the available resources. The most obvious of these are interactional adaptations to the usual classroom patterns of Initiation-Response-Evaluation, teacher (procedural) monologues, and to the usual power relations between teachers and students in other types of language learning classrooms. These adaptations reflect differing claims to ownership over specialized knowledge about Halkomelem. Another finding is the extensive work by participants to justify specific learning activities or target forms of the language. This work reflects some unique constraints of teaching and learning an endangered language. Overall, procedural talk is found to provide one context for quasi-conversational interaction.
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