Talking About Reading: Changing Practices for a Literacy Event

  • John Hellermann


Although generally studied as a psycholinguistic decoding process, reading can also be studied as a social practice. This chapter presents an analysis of one English language learner’s interactions in literacy events over nine months in a classroom. The participant, “Li”, had little experience with schooling or literacy in any language. The literacy events were opportunities for students to talk with one another about books they had just read. The sequential analysis shows that participants have a number of orientations to accomplishing the work of talking about a just-read book and the practices for doing that work change over the course of nine months. A case is made that repeated performance of the literacy event leads to experienced practice which can be considered evidence of learning.


  1. Baker, C. D. (1991). Literary practices and social relations in classroom reading events. In C. D. Baker & A. Luke (Eds.), Towards a critical sociology of reading pedagogy (pp. 161–188). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brouwer, C. E., & Wagner, J. (2004). Developmental issues in second language conversation. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 29–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Davidson, C. (2012). Ethnomethodology and literacy research: A methodological “road less travelled”. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 11(1), 26–42.Google Scholar
  4. Eskildsen, S. (2009). Constructing another language: Usage-based linguistics in second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics, 30(3), 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eskildsen, S. W. (2012). Negation constructions at work. Language Learning, 62(2), 335–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Eskildsen, S. W. (2015). What counts as a developmental sequence? Exemplar-based L2 learning of English questions. Language Learning, 65(1), 33–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fasel Lauzon, V., & Pekarek Doehler, S. (2013). Focus on form as a joint accomplishment: An attempt to bridge the gap between focus on form research and conversation analytic research on SLA. IRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 51(4), 323–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. Modern Language Journal, 81(3), 285–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Garfinkel, H. (2002). Ethnomethodology’s program: Working out Durkheim’s aphorism. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. Hall, J. K., & Pekarek Doehler, S. (2011). L2 interactional competence and development. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellermann, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development (pp. 1–15). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  11. Heap, J. L. (1977). Toward a phenomenology of reading. Journal of the Phenomenology of Psychology, 8(1), 103–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heap, J. L. (1980). What counts as reading: Limits to certainty in assessment. Curriculum Inquiry, 10(3), 265–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heap, J. L. (1985). Discourse in the production of classroom knowledge: Reading lessons. Curriculum Inquiry, 15(3), 245–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Heap, J. L. (1990). Ethnomethodology, cultural phenomenology, and literacy activities. Curriculum Inquiry, 21(1), 109–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heath, S. B. (1982). What no bedtime story means: Narrative skills at home and school. Language in Society, 11(1), 49–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hellermann, J. (2006). Classroom interactive practices for developing L2 literacy: A microethnographic study of two beginning adult learners of English. Applied Linguistics, 27(3), 377–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hellermann, J. (2007). The development of practices for action in classroom dyadic interaction: Focus on task openings. Modern Language Journal, 91(1), 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hellermann, J. (2008). Social actions for classroom language learning. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  19. Hellermann, J. (2011). Members’ methods, members’ competencies: Looking for evidence of language learning in longitudinal investigations of other-initiated repair. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellermann, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development (pp. 147–172). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  20. Hellermann, J., & Harris, K. A. (2015). Navigating the language-learning classroom without previous schooling: A case study of Li. In D. Koike & C. Blyth (Eds.), Dialogue in multilingual and multimodal communities (pp. 49–77). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hester, S., & Francis, D. (1995). Words and pictures: Collaborative storytelling in a primary classroom. Research in Education, 53, 65–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kasper, G., & Wagner, J. (2014). Conversation analysis in applied linguistics. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 34(2), 171–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kim, S. (2015, July 28). Unframing a second-language formula and epistemic status in service encounters. Paper presented at the 14th International Pragmatics Conference (IPrA), Antwerp, Belgium.Google Scholar
  24. Koschmann, T. D. (Ed.). (2011). Theories of learning and studies of instructional practice. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Macbeth, D. (2011). Understanding as an instructional matter. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(2), 438–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Macbeth, D. (2014). Studies of work, instructed action, and the promise of granularity: A commentary. Discourse Studies, 16(2), 295–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Markee, N. (2008). Toward a learning behavior tracking methodology for CA-for-SLA. Applied Linguistics, 29(3), 404–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCracken, R. A. (1971). Initiating sustained silent reading. Journal of Reading, 14(8), 521–524; 582–583.Google Scholar
  29. McHoul, A. (1982). Telling how texts talk. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  30. McHoul, A. (1991). Reading S. In C. D. Baker & A. Luke (Eds.), Towards a critical sociology of reading pedagogy (pp. 191–210). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mondada, L., & Pekarek Doehler, S. (2004). Second language acquisition as situated practice: Task accomplishment in the French second language classroom. Modern Language Journal, 88(4), 501–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mori, J., & Markee, N. (2009). Language learning, cognition, and interactional practices: An introduction. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 47(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nguyen, H. T. (2011). Achieving recipient design longitudinally: Evidence from a pharmacy intern in patient consultations. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellermann, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development (pp. 173–205). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  34. Pekarek Doehler, S. (2010). Conceptual changes and methodological challenges: On language and learning from a conversation analytic perspective on SLA. In P. Seedhouse, S. Walsh, & C. Jenks (Eds.), Conceptualising learning in applied linguistics (pp. 105–127). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pekarek Doehler, S., & Pochon-Berger, E. (2016). L2 interactional competence as increased ability for context-sensitive conduct: A longitudinal study of story-openings. Applied Linguistics.
  36. Pilgreen, J., & Krashen, S. (1993). Sustained silent reading with English as a second language high school students: Impact on reading comprehension, reading frequency, and reading enjoyment. School Library Media Quarterly, 22(1), 21–23.Google Scholar
  37. Reder, S. (2005). The “lab school”. Focus On Basics: Connecting Research and Practice, 8(A), 1–7.Google Scholar
  38. Reder, S., Harris, K., & Setzler, K. (2003). A multimedia adult learner corpus. TESOL Quarterly, 37(3), 546–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reder, S., Harris, K.A., Hellermann, J., Banke, S., Brillanceau, D., & Kurzet, R. A sustained silent reading experiment with adult ESOL beginners. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  40. Sacks, H. (1992). Lectures on conversation I-II. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  41. Schegloff, E. A. (1992). In another context. In A. Duranti & C. Goodwin (Eds.), Rethinking context: Language as an interactive phenomenon (pp. 193–227). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the language classroom: A conversation analysis perspective. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  43. Smith, D. E. (1984). Textually mediated social organization. International Social Science Journal, 36(1), 59–75.Google Scholar
  44. Theodórsdóttir, G. (2011). Second language interaction for business and learning. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellermann, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development (pp. 93–116). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  45. Wittgenstein, L. (1958). The blue and brown books. New York: Harper & Brothers.Google Scholar
  46. Zemel, A., & Koschmann, T. (2014). “Put your fingers right in here”: Learnability and instructed experience. Discourse Studies, 16(2), 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Hellermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA

Personalised recommendations