Conversation analytic approach to practiced language policies: the example of an induction classroom for newly-arrived immigrant children in France.
Bonacina, Florence Marguerite
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Traditionally, language policy (LP) has been conceptualised as a notion separate from that of practice. That is, language practices have usually been studied with a view to evaluate the extent to which a LP is (or is not) implemented (e.g. Martin, 2005; Johnson, 2009). Recently, however, Spolsky (2004, 2007, 2008a) has argued that policy and practice need not be seen as distinct and that, in fact, there is policy in language practices themselves (I use the term ‘practiced language policy’). Therefore, Spolsky’s claim represents a decisive development in the field of LP research. However, this proposal remains essentially programmatic since Spolsky does not indicate how practiced language policies can be investigated. The aim of this thesis is to address this methodological gap. The main claim of the thesis is that Conversation Analysis (CA) – a method specifically developed to describe conversational practices – can be used to investigate practiced language policies. In order to support this claim, a case study has been conducted on the language practices of an induction classroom for newly-arrived immigrant children in France. In the thesis, a broad view of CA is adopted, incorporating both sequential and categorisation analysis (Membership Categorisation Analysis). More specifically, I have used the conversation analytic approach to code-switching (as developed over the last few years by researchers such as Auer, 1984; Li Wei, 2002; Gafaranga, 2009; Bonacina and Gafaranga, 2010) and investigated a corpus of audio-recorded classroom interactions I collected in the above mentioned setting. Observation of these interactions revealed a number of “norms of interaction” (Hymes, 1972) the classroom participants orient to in order to go about the routine business of talking in an orderly fashion. For example, it was observed that each of the languages available can potentially be adopted as the “medium of classroom interaction” (Bonacina and Gafaranga, 2010) depending on who is doing being the language teacher. When no one is doing being the language teacher, it was observed, a key determinant of language choice is participants’ language preference. Finally, in the absence of any shared preferred language, French was adopted. The practiced language policy of this induction classroom consists of the set of such interactional norms. It is because CA can be used to discover and describe such interactional norms that this thesis claims it can be used to investigate practiced language policies in this induction classroom and in other settings as well. In summary, this thesis is primarily a contribution to the field of LP research. It starts from recent proposals in the field, especially by Spolsky (2004, 2007, 2008a), that there is policy in practices and shows how this programmatically formulated proposal can be implemented. More specifically the thesis shows that and how CA can be used to discover a practiced language policy. The research reported here has adopted a case study methodology, investigating language choice practices in a multilingual educational setting. It therefore contributes to the study of bilingual classroom talk, albeit indirectly. This is particularly the case as there has been very few, if any, studies of bilingual classroom talk which combine both sequential and categorisation analysis.