Resolving interactional troubles and maintaining progressivity in paired speaking assessment in an EFL context


PAPERS IN LANGUAGE TESTING AND ASSESSMENT, vol.9, no.1, pp.64-94, 2020 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI)
  • Page Numbers: pp.64-94
  • Keywords: Conversation analysis, L2 interaction, paired oral assessment, progressivity in interaction, EFL, testing, PROFICIENCY, COMPETENCE, SEQUENCES, ORGANIZATION, NEGOTIATION, PREFERENCE, ALIGNMENT, LANGUAGE, JAPANESE, TALK
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Any form of talk-in-interaction is organized in relation to progressivity (Schegloff, 2007; Hosoda & Aline, 2013). Progressivity of interaction may involve resolving interactional troubles and producing subsequent talk, and it is endemic to the organisation of conversation at the level of turn construction (Schegloff, 1979). In testing speaking skills, as progressivity of talk between peers is central for teachers to be able to assess students' performances, troubles that halt progressivity and the resolution of such troubles by the students deserve close analyses. Against this background, this paper focuses on how paired L2 (i.e., English) speaking assessment interactions unfold in a Turkish higher education context. Using multimodal conversation analysis, we investigated the interactional resources that are deployed to maintain progressivity when there is a halt in the unfolding interaction, an under-researched phenomenon in L2 speaking assessment contexts. We used transcriptions of 100 video-recorded paired test interactions, each of which were approximately four minutes long. We identified and described the ways interactional trouble was flagged, paying close attention to how embodied resources, such as hand and other gestures, gaze direction, posture and body orientation, and facial expressions (Nevile, 2015), are used by the interactants. Based on 100 paired assessment interactions our findings reveal that in moments of interactional trouble participants make transitions to a sub-topic, formulate understandings, and engage in collaborative completions to maintain progressivity, using a variety of interactional resources as part of their interactional repertoires. The ways such troubles unfold in interaction and how they are resolved by L2 users to maintain progressivity of test-talk have potential to inform research on the assessment of Interactional Competence.