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Book: Extending Research Horizons in Applied Linguistics

Chapter: How Does Language Become a Skill? Analysing Languaging in a Problem Solving Activity Using a Multimodal Methodological Framework

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41514


Thinking and language emerge through interactivity, or sense saturated coordination (Steffensen, 2013) that couples agents to their social and physical environments. The term “languaging” directs attention to the fact that bodily and situational processes in the here-and-now and their organization across different spatial and temporal scales are fundamental in communication and sense-making (e.g. Love, 2017). In order to illustrate these claims, we analyse a video recording of the board game ‘Codenames’ played by a group of six students. By applying elements of Norris’ Multimodal Analysis, Linell’s idea of Communicative Project and the notion of Recurrent Languaging Activity (Newgarden and Zeng, 2016) we zoom in on the linguistic contingencies players deploy in their dialogical exchanges, as they realize their goals and strategies in the game, and use the Jeffersonian coding system to present the linguistic interactions observed in selected fragments of the recording. We hope that the combination of these tools will enable us to address the micro-scale of dialogical interactional dynamics exhibited by participants cooperating in a problem space. Our interest will be in the way the players as languaging agents orientate to verbal patterns or ‘repeatables’ which organize their interactivity (sense-saturated coordination) as they move along dialogically towards the desired results. In this way we aim to interrogate the claim that “linguistic knowledge should be conceived of as practical knowledge – or knowing-how – rather than theoretical knowledge – or knowing-that” (Herik et al., 2019: 60). On a more theoretical level, this should find echo in Mulcaster’s 500-year-old insight that “languaging enables us to understand” and, in so doing, enables us as humans to engage actively with each other.

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