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Small Talk is Big Talk: Teaching Phatic Communication

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Slides for Romney and Campbell-Larsen's 2017 KOTESOL presentation on teaching phatic communication.

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Small Talk is Big Talk: Teaching Phatic Communication

  1. 1. Small Talk is Big Talk 
 Teaching Phatic Communication John Campbell-Larsen Associate Professor Kyoto Women’s University Cameron Romney Assistant Professor Doshisha University 25th Korea TESOL International Conference Sookmyung Women’s University Seoul, Korea
  2. 2. Agenda • Definitions of Small Talk and Big Talk • Instructional issues with Small Talk • Characteristics of Small Talk (Questions & Answers) • Activities for improving Small Talk
  3. 3. Small Talk Big Talk for social purposes for transactional purposes
  4. 4. Transactional Communication The meeting is on July 17. 📅 📆 Girl Face Outline available Royalty Free from Clipart Library http://clipart-library.com/clipart/rcjKGBRzi.htm
  5. 5. Social Communication I like pizza. 😊😊 Me too! Girl Face Outline available Royalty Free from Clipart Library http://clipart-library.com/clipart/rcjKGBRzi.htm
  6. 6. Small Talk Big Talk for social purposes for transactional purposes Greetings Chatting Humor Anecdotes Story Telling Discussions Debates Decision Making Consensus Building Information Transmission
  7. 7. Small Talk Big Talk for social purposes for transactional purposes Greetings Chatting Humor Anecdotes Story Telling Discussions Debates Decision Making Consensus Building Information Transmission Outcome Oriented TalkSocial Oriented Talk
  8. 8. Other ‘names’ for Small Talk Chat, chats, chatting (Everyday) Conversation Social talk Relational talk Interactional talk Phatic Communication
  9. 9. Other ‘names’ for Small Talk Chat, chats, chatting (Everyday) Conversation Social talk Relational talk Interactional talk Phatic Communication
  10. 10. Phatic Communication denoting or relating to language used for general purposes of social interaction, rather than to convey information. “ Dictionary.com Coined by Bronislaw Malinowski in 1923 from the Greek phatós meaning spoken or that which can be spoken.
  11. 11. Conversation, then, is overwhelmingly social, interactive talk, which differentiates it from those other genres of dialogue where transactional goals predominate, and where participants collaborate through talk to carry out a task or a set of tasks. Cheepen (2000), p. 290 “
  12. 12. … the term small talk covers a range of different types of social talk, from narrowly defined formulaic greetings and parting exchanges to more expansive personally oriented talk. Holmes (2000), p. 56 “
  13. 13. Crucial to understanding the nature and origins of human language, perhaps our most distinctive trait, is understanding the social-interactional matrix in which it is used. Informal conversation is where language is learned and where most of the business of social life is conducted. Stivers, et al. (2009), p. 10587 “
  14. 14. (Some) Features of conversation: •It is not primarily necessitated by a practical task •The talk is primarily for the participants and not for an outside audience Cook (1989), p. 51
  15. 15. Why is Phatic Communication Important?
  16. 16. Image by Colin Bowern available under Creative Commons CC BY via https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinbowern/2394385968 Why is Phatic Communication Important?
  17. 17. Image by Malingering available under Creative Commons CC BY NC ND via https://www.flickr.com/photos/malingering/9882995014 Why is Phatic Communication Important?
  18. 18. Image by Alan Bradburne available under Creative Commons CC BY NC via www.flickr.com/photos/muggy/163537084 Why is Phatic Communication Important?
  19. 19. Image by www.velo-radsport.de available under Creative Commons CC BY SA via https://www.flickr.com/photos/velo-radsport/21293203436/ Why is Phatic Communication Important?
  20. 20. Issues with Small Talk • It’s dismissed as unimportant
  21. 21. … a systematic ambivalent view of small talk, talk which is aimless, prefatory, obvious, uninteresting, sometimes suspect and even irrelevant. Coupland (2000), p. 3 “
  22. 22. …for me big talk and meaningful conversations are what really matters… I hate small talk. Gottberg (2015) “
  23. 23. In an EFL context: •Conversation is often associated with notions of triviality and inconsequentiality •Other genres of speaking are seen as more prestigious Campbell-Larsen & Cunningham (2009)
  24. 24. • It’s dismissed as unimportant • It’s just greetings and salutations Issues with Small Talk
  25. 25. … the term small talk covers a range of different types of social talk, from narrowly defined formulaic greetings and parting exchanges to more expansive personally oriented talk. Holmes (2000), p. 56 “
  26. 26. • It’s dismissed as unimportant • It’s just greetings and salutations • Big talk and small talk are separate things Issues with Small Talk
  27. 27. Analysts (and indeed dialogue participants) are, in general, able to categorize without too much difficulty the primary goal of a dialogue as either transactional or interactional. It is rare, however, in the case of human-human discourse, to find a dialogue that is purely one form or another. Cheepen (2000), p. 288 “
  28. 28. The distinction between business talk and small talk is sometimes difficult to draw. There is a continuum from one to the other, with many different kinds of ‘off- topic’ discourse … in between. Holmes (2000), p. 56 “
  29. 29. • It’s dismissed as unimportant • It’s just greetings and salutations • Big talk and small talk are separate things • Literacy skills transfer to speaking skills Issues with Small Talk
  30. 30. …anyone who is literate in his or her native language is assumed to be able to speak it fluently. The assumption that high standards of literacy in L2 must translate into matching levels of spoken ability is a tempting, but actually erroneous assumption. A learner with high-levels of reading ability may have very limited conversational abilities. Campbell-Larsen & Romney (2017), p. 24 “
  31. 31. • It’s dismissed as unimportant • It’s just greetings and salutations • Big talk and small talk are separate things • Literacy skills transfer to speaking skills • It doesn’t need to be taught Issues with Small Talk
  32. 32. Learners need to develop the skill of making friendly conversation in a foreign language and this should be a regular part of the speaking course. Nation (2013), p. 29 “
  33. 33. • It IS important • It’s MORE than just greetings and salutations • Big talk and small talk are NOT separate things • Literacy skills DO NOT transfer to speaking skills • It DOES need to be taught Issues with Small Talk
  34. 34. Phatic Features of English Questions and Answers
  35. 35. Asking social questions Phatic Features of English
  36. 36. Classroom Questions • Many classroom speaking activities involve question & answer structures more akin to interviews than conversation. • Many students are habituated to classroom speaking activities of this kind and reproduce it in their own spontaneous speaking
  37. 37. Video removed for student privacy
  38. 38. Questions • Question formation presents linguistic challenges for students. • Word order • Auxiliary use • Negative and tag questions • Interrogative words that differ from the L1 • The interactional, phatic nature of questioning is poorly realized
  39. 39. Transactional Questions Typical classroom question: “What did you do last weekend?” Image by Rich Legg. License purchased from istockphoto.com
  40. 40. Interactional Questions Topic proffer question: “So, what did you do last weekend? Did you go out or anything” Image by Pixabay CC BY from https://pixabay.com/en/beard-beverage-break-business-cafe-2610261/
  41. 41. Questions: Topic proffer “So, what did you do last weekend? Did you go out or anything?” • The questioner proffers a topic • The recipient is free to answer on this topic or on another topic
  42. 42. Phatic Questions Question + Question (double questions) Often Wh question + Y/N question How was the party, was it any good? When are you going to go? Have you decided? Where do you live? Is it near here? Often with vague category markers Why did they buy that one? Was it really cheap or something?
  43. 43. Phatic Questions Questions with example answers How long did it take, like an hour or two? Who else is going, you know, like, Mark and Geoff and those guys?
  44. 44. Phatic Questions Embedded questions What are you going to do about the flights? Coz I am gonna try and book it early and see of they will issue the receipt after the first. When are they gonna announce it? I mean, I have to tell the uni as soon as I know.
  45. 45. Phatic Features of English Expanded Turn Taking
  46. 46. A template for an expanded turn 1. Opening discourse marker (Well, Actually, So, You know…) 2. Statement 3. Turn internal discourse marker (Like, I mean, You know…) 4. Expansion (with evaluative component) 5. Closing discourse marker (You know, Something like that…)
  47. 47. A template for an expanded turn A: So, what did you do last weekend? Did you go out or anything? B: Well, no, actually, I just stayed in. I mean, I’m going to Tokyo next week for a concert, so I’m saving money, you know what I mean?
  48. 48. A template for an expanded turn A: So, what did you do last weekend? Did you go out or anything? B: Well, no, actually, I just stayed in. I mean, I’m going to Tokyo next week for a concert, so I’m saving money, you know what I mean?
  49. 49. Activities
  50. 50. Activity Create a space for conversation
  51. 51. Video removed for student privacy
  52. 52. Activity Model conversations
  53. 53. A: What kind of music do you like? B: Pop music.
  54. 54. A: What kind of music do you like? B: Pop music. A: Who is your favorite pop singer? B: Selena Gomez. A: What’s your favorite Selena Gomez song? B: Same old love. A: Have you ever been to her concert? B: No. A: Do you want to? B: Yes. …
  55. 55. Conversation One A: What kind of music do you like? B: Pop music. A: Who is your favorite pop singer? B: Selena Gomez. Conversation Two A: Recently I’ve been listening to classical music, you know like Mozart and Beethoven. What kind of music do you like? B: Well, it depends on my mood, I mean I sometimes listen to classical, but I guess that I mostly listen to pop music. A: What, like One Direction and stuff? B: Ah…no. Not really. I mean more like Selena Gomez. A: Oh, okay. I got you.
  56. 56. Conversation One A: What kind of music do you like? B: Pop music. A: Who is your favorite pop singer? B: Selena Gomez. Conversation Two A: Recently I’ve been listening to classical music, you know like Mozart and Beethoven. What kind of music do you like? B: Well, it depends on my mood, I mean I sometimes listen to classical, but I guess that I mostly listen to pop music. A: What, like One Direction and stuff? B: Ah…no. Not really. I mean more like Selena Gomez. A: Oh, okay. I got you. Questions for Analysis Which dialogue do you like better? Why? Which conversation seems more ‘real’? Why? What do you think is the biggest difference between the two? What do you notice about the questions? What do you notice about the answers?
  57. 57. A: Pre-question answer + QUESTION B: ANSWER + Extra information
  58. 58. A: Pre-question answer + QUESTION B: ANSWER + Extra information A: I like classical music. What kind of music do you like? B: I like pop music, I mean I like Selena Gomez.
  59. 59. A: Pre-question answer + QUESTION B: ANSWER + Extra information A: I like classical music. What kind of music do you like. B: I like pop music, I mean I like Selena Gomez. 1. Underline the pre-question answer. 2. Draw a box around the question. 3. Draw a circle around the answer. 4. Double underline the extra information.
  60. 60. _______________. What kind of music do you like? ________________, I mean __________________. _______________. What kind of music do you like? ________________, I mean __________________. I like rock music I like hip-hop I like Nikki Minaj
  61. 61. Activity ASK social questions and GIVE social answers
  62. 62. • Phatic Communication IS important • It’s MORE than just greetings and salutations • Big talk and small talk are NOT separate things • Phatic Communication does NOT automatically transfer from literacy skills • It DOES need to be taught Conclusion
  63. 63. • Teachers need to be aware of how English works interactionally • Students must be given space to talk freely • Use more realistic L2 models • Employ students’ higher order thinking skills Conclusion

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