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Contrasting identities: a language
teacher’s practice in an English for
Specific Purposes classroom
Yusuke Okada



Graduate School of Language and Culture, Osaka University,
Toyonaka, Japan
Published online: 29 Sep 2014.

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Sinclair and Coulthard 1975). The question arises as to whether such non-role specific identities can play any part in the language classroom. epistemics. learned and assessed. 6. the teacher might be identified as old man. conversation analysis. No. The study concludes with a discussion of the contribution the use of identity can make to ESP/LSP (language for specific purposes) and suggestions for ESP/LSP course development. English for specific © 2014 Taylor & Francis . Keywords: identity. Detailed analysis of the data of English for a Specific Purpose (ESP) classrooms indicates that contrasting the teacher’s and students’ non-default situated Japan For language teachers who are concerned about referring to their own and students’ identities other than in the roles of ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ in the classroom.Classroom Discourse. However. Toyonaka.2014.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Graduate School of Language and Culture. this conversation analytic study aims to give insights into the use of identity. namely the teacher’s initiation of an action. the identities of teacher and student are relevant to all the participants.1080/19463014. teacher training Introduction In language classrooms. is a way for the language teacher to perform the role of ‘teacher’ effectively in ESP classrooms: the practice constructs an epistemic gradient among the teacher and the students and makes some actions accountable by the participants. He found that *Email: okada@lang. 73– Contrasting identities: a language teacher’s practice in an English for Specific Purposes classroom Yusuke Okada* Downloaded by [187. where turn-taking is managed by identities other than those of teacher and students. 2015 Vol.205. such as senpai (‘senior’ in English) with kohai (‘junior’ in English) and sociologist with scientist. which consists of a sequence of role-specific actions. Richards (2006) analysed the talk of English as a second language (ESL) classrooms in order to determine whether it is possible to produce an ‘authentic conversation’ in a language classroom. where a target language is taught. http://dx. and classroom interaction is normatively managed through the actions affiliated with such Employing a conversation analysis (CA) framework. the student’s response to the action and the teacher’s feedback or evaluation (Mehan 1979. such situation-relevant roles are not the only features of the participants’ identities in language classrooms. Such a situation would contrast with the traditional teacher-led lesson in which turn-taking is governed by the roles of teacher and students. Canadian or linguist. a student might be categorised as a boy. Japanese or psychologist. who is ascribed a superior epistemic status with an identity. 1. Osaka University. The most notable example is the initiation-response-feedback/evaluation (IRF/ E) pattern. For example.

by orientating toward other features of their identities. The analysis of the data is then set out. The following section offers an illustration of the CA approach to identity on which this study is theoretically and methodologically based. 72–73). Following this.g. is a means . practitioners in the field of language for specific purposes (LSP) express concern with regard to the roles teachers should play and what identities they should exhibit in the LSP classroom. any such orientation toward one’s identity must be visible to and reportable by co-participants in the relevant interaction. However. language teachers remain concerned about orienting to identities other than the role of teacher (e. or that disclosure of their own personal beliefs or values associated with an identity may be an obstacle to teaching (Richards 2006. 2005). later employed by Richards (2006). as well as practitioners of LSP courses and programmes. At the same time. and (3) suggestions for ESP/LSP course development. One of Richards’ examples involved a student and teacher orienting to their identities as a member of a Taiwanese war model-making group and a westerner. showing how the teacher used his own and his students’ identities in an ESP classroom. which were associated with the language classroom. and that authentic conversations were possible in such a classroom context. Richards’ findings suggested that the non-default identities of both teacher and students can have pedagogical value in language classrooms.Downloaded by [187. The present study aims to provide insight into the potential value of incorporating identities other than the situated role-specific identities of teachers and students by documenting the practice in interactional teaching activities in an actual English for Specific Purposes (ESP) classroom. the student explained to the teacher and other students what a military model-maker is.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 74 Y. and what he understood the swastika to mean.205. 39). 2005. Teachers may be concerned that such an identity switch may lead to a loss of control over the classroom. It follows that it would be informative to document whether and how teachers can use participants’ different identities for pedagogical purposes while remaining in the role of teacher in the language/LSP classroom. Clarke 2008. This concern arises as the nature of the LSP classroom differs from that in an ordinary language learning classroom. through displaying their knowledge on the topic of the swastika and having an authentic conversation in the language classroom. A need for research in this area has been identified by language educationists (Varghese et al. Okada the teacher and students could indeed move out of their situated roles. Zimmerman’s (1998) idea of ‘identity-as-context’. Varghese et al. However. the data to be analysed are described. Nagatomo 2012. A CA approach: identity as a cultural and interactional phenomenon From the CA perspective. (2) what contribution such use of identity can make to the language classroom. Braine 1999.181. any identifications or categorisations that may be applied to a participant are regarded as resources for interpreting and (re)producing the participant’s identity. in that the teacher may be less knowledgeable than the students on the specific subject material (see Belcher 2009 for a review). In this interaction. while the value of orienting toward non-default teacher and student identities is recognised as an interactional and educational resource for language classroom discourse. respectively. The paper concludes with a discussion of: (1) how participants’ identities can be used in the language classroom.

as well as a set of discourse identities associated with these roles. if a participant is referred to in a conversation as a teacher. namely identity-in-context and MCD. answering a question on a grammatical point) reveals how s/he performs his/her situated roles as teacher and student. 225). are understood and expected in relation to the student (and other identities co-categorised in the collection School). and other predicates1 associated with the identity teacher. teacher or student). mundane ways of talking and acting’ (Lee 1991.e.g. as well as those of other participants. Canadian. 1972b. The term ‘culture’ here refers to ‘a recoverable. Combining these two CA notions related to identity. A particular category may be either a situated identity or a transportable identity. and past actions. current. which states that a (co-)participant’s performance of predicates associated with a particular identity suggests the participant is implementing one identity from a collection. and which accompanies the person across contexts (e. The first is ‘discourse identity’.181. One such rule of application is the socalled ‘economy rule’ (Sacks 1992 vol. a participant’s display of cultural understanding of what actions are appropriate in the language classroom (e.Downloaded by [187. Considering the same example from a different angle. this leads the participants in the conversation to invoke the collection School. Such cultural reasoning around identity-in-context and MCD proffers two procedures for a participant in a conversational interaction to work up or make relevant his/her own situated and transportable identity. if a participant comes to the front of the classroom and starts to speak to the rest of the participants. 259). young girl.205. current speaker. disabled). are normatively exercised (Richards 2006. old man. which is reflected by physical and cultural features visible or audible to others. The second is ‘situated identity’. For example. the former participant is understood to be a teacher and the latter participants are understood to be students. every identity is constructed through participants’ enactment of cultural reasoning. which reflects a situation-specific role (e. which emerges in the action at each interactional turn (e. I. as well as transportable identities. which includes student as another participant. what a participant is supposed to do is predicted by the way s/he is understood by the other participants in the interaction. it appears that discourse identity is reflected by predicates associated with a particular category within a collection. Zimmerman (1998) proposes three types of identity. Japanese. reproducible stock of knowledge and skills available in daily.g. questioner. correcting a syntactic error in a classmate’s speech. It should be noted that discourse and situated identities. answerer). the teacher’s future. 1992).g. Participants’ cultural reasoning around identity is clarified by another CA concept. While it can be said that the situated identities of teacher and student. An MCD comprises a collection of identities (i.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Classroom Discourse 75 of documenting the details of a participant’s orientation toward his/her own and others’ identities in an interaction. Sacks 1972a.2 Whereas a participant’s execution of a discourse identity constitutes his/her situated or transportable identity. are ‘worked up’ (Antaki and Widdicombe 1998. I. 14) by participants’ cultural knowledge. These assumptions are made according to the so-called ‘viewer’s maxim’ (Sacks 1992 vol. 246) which suggests that participants understand an identity in terms of its relationship to other identities in the collection. listener. Thus. The third is ‘transportable identity’. and no fixed identity is established prior to an interaction. The first is a (co-)participant’s execution of identity . namely the membership categorisation device (MCD.g. routine. a set of identities that go together) and some rules for their application. From that point. 60).

and intersubjectivity. [which] are not treated as states of mind that somehow lurk behind the interaction. and Jefferson 1974). another participant offered a further identification later in the conversation.e. The direct identification of Fukushima people instructs the other participants on how to understand the predicate (i. Detailed transcription is used as a way to make the participants’ orientation toward features of the interaction visible and available to both the researcher and his/her readers. In the analyses presented below of a teacher’s use of identities other than teacher and student in ESP classrooms. This visibility and availability of each participant’s own understanding warrant further analysis (see Bilmes 1985.205. 192). 192). Hauser (2011) demonstrated that. Such detailed transcription allows the reader to follow the analysis of data segments. This identification many people who speak dialect refreshes the co-participants’ understanding – they move from an assertion that only Fukushima people who speak a dialect think they speak standard Japanese to an assertion that many people who speak a dialect.181. namely ‘Many people who speak dialect think so’ (Hauser 2011. according to one particular transportable identity. participants use such direct identification to proffer or even to negotiate implications derived from the identity. promoting the reliability and validity of the analysis (Seedhouse 2005). Mori (2003) documented how an inter-cultural communication interaction between Japanese students and American students was constructed in a language classroom through their asking each other particular culture-related questions. in the above case of Fukushima people. in conversational interaction. relevancies. Schegloff. being unaware of speaking a dialect) of individuals from Fukushima in terms of this transportable identity. CA treats a participant’s identity as primarily an interactional phenomenon which is made relevant by participants both directly and indirectly through their cultural reasoning. Consider a statement made by a Japanese student in a university English classroom: ‘Fukushima people don’t think they speak dialect. including those from Fukushima. This reflects a direct identification of certain individuals originating from Fukushima. Sacks.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 76 Y. The indirect implementation of a participant’s identity through his/her performance of an identity-predicate suggests that a participant’s identity may be understood through the predicate(s) demonstrated. On this basis. As is clear from the discussion above. CA is an emic analysis. Okada predicates. achieved not by interviewing participants but by investigating ‘participant orientations. it also validates expectations regarding how the participant is supposed to behave towards other participants. 495). a north-eastern part of Japan. They think they speak standard Japanese’ (Hauser 2011.Downloaded by [187. and code-switching according to the hearers. For example. Furthermore. think they speak standard Japanese. the second is a (co-)participant’s direct reference to an identity. participants can negotiate the level of generality of a person’s identity to suggest a different implication. the focus is on how participants . such as ‘You’re Japanese’ or ‘I’m a native speaker of English’. Note that the direct identification of a participant’s identity not only instructs other participants how to understand the identified participant’s conduct in terms of the predicates associated with the identity. but instead as local and sequential accomplishments that must be grounded in empirically observable conversational conduct’ (Markee and Kasper 2004. The point of Hauser’s (2011) study is that direct identification is a way to generalise a single individual into a category of people in terms of one or more shared features. participants illustrate their understanding of (co-)participants’ orientation to relevant features of their identity through their action at a subsequent turn.

while the scientist taught the course content. Initial investigation of the corpus revealed six cases in which the English teacher explicitly invoked identities for himself and the students other than teacher and student. how is this done successfully? The data The data analysed in this study come from a corpus of 720 minutes of videorecorded classroom interaction of an ESP course at a Japanese university. . The guiding questions for the analysis are: Downloaded by [187. The excerpts were transcribed in detail according to standard CA conventions (see Appendix). Participants in an interaction may choose a particular identification to communicate a particular implication of a person(s). are analysed below. three junior students (Murata.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 (1) Does the teacher employ non-role-specific identities for himself and his students for pedagogical purposes while maintaining the roles of teacher and students? (2) If so.181. The English teacher was expected to teach the students how to use English as scientists. He summarises the article he selected. The course was an elective for junior and senior students in a chemistry department. (2) how such an identification is treated by co-participant(s). The focus of the present analysis is on: (1) the reason(s) why a particular identification is employed. the English language teacher taught the students mainly through discussions on scientific topics chosen by the students from a variety of sources. selected as being perspicuous cases (Garfinkel 2002). The segment begins with Asano (A) asking Murata (M) a question. The course was taught by means of team-teaching by a Japanese English language teacher and a scientist. and poses some questions to the class. The English teacher had majored in sociology. As is clear from the discussion above. as well as the teachers’ feedback to the students. Two excerpts from the data. The remaining one-third of the sessions were taught by both the English teacher and the scientist.Classroom Discourse 77 themselves treat their own and co-participants’ identities in conversational interaction. Murata has selected an article and prepared discussion questions about the applicability of a new method of cross-coupling reaction3 shown in the article. one senior student (Fujino) and the English teacher (Asano) are engaged in a classroom discussion. Three junior students registered for the course. In two-thirds of the class sessions. Ikeda and Beppu). and (3) what pedagogical goal is achieved by the identification. The students were aware of the roles each teacher was supposed to fulfil. and each session included presentations by the students on scientific topics. Analysis In the segment below. making participants’ displays of their understanding clear to both the researcher and the reader. and one senior student voluntarily participated.205. The participants are seated as in Figure 1. Pseudonyms are used for all participants in these segments. several possible identifications of a person exist at the same time.

Segment 1 To the question asked by Asano in lines 499 and 501.Downloaded by [187.205.181. The seating chart for Segment 1. While Fujino . but soon adds the uncertainty marker ‘maybe’ in line 503.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 78 Y. Murata answers positively by nodding. Okada Figure 1.

which is a situated identity other than student. Murata explains that understanding all the issues regarding the method is beyond his capability. Mondada. Murata then gives his own interpretation. . Asano points to Fujino and poses an epistemic stance (Heritage 2012).e. She explains that she knows there are many ways of synthesising. Asano gives no uptake. she denies that she knows much about the method. reflecting Fujino’s difficulty in producing the appropriate utterances. Fujino then takes another turn to explain her position (lines 519–522). she individualises her lack of knowledge with ‘I think’ (line 519) and ‘I don’t know’ (line 521).205. she avoids being asked further questions by her claim to not know ‘very much’. Overlapping Asano’s ‘hm’. Asano seems to indicate his dissatisfaction with the ambiguity expressed by Murata. This turn contains many intra-turn pauses. Fujino takes the latter position. If she affiliates with the identity. However. she should talk about her understanding of the cross-coupling method. However. She is required to express whether she affiliates or disaffiliates with the teacher’s stance that she (Fujino) has epistemic primacy (Stivers. However.Downloaded by [187. starting his turn in lines 511–512 with ‘but’. This contrast in terms of their situated identities other than students exerts a rhetorical force on Fujino. Fujino is therefore categorised as a more knowledgeable participant than Murata.e. However. In line 517. but she does not know much about cross-coupling methods. namely that she as a senpai understands the method. his turn presents an excuse for his ambiguity. The Japanese word senpai refers to a person who is senior to the other members of a group. in line 514 Murata further comments on his position. which indicates he is negating Asano’s expectation that he should be knowledgeable about the crosscoupling method. Asano acknowledges Fujino’s account in line 525 and then assigns the next speaker in line 527. but claims that she as an individual person does not have thorough knowledge on the matter. Considering Murata’s declaration that he is not knowledgeable about all the issues regarding the new cross-coupling method. an ideal senpai) who can inform the ongoing discussion. Asano gives no uptake of Fujino’s denial and Murata keeps his eyes on Fujino. He contrasts Fujino’s identity with that of Murata. before Murata finishes his turn. while attaching the epistemic mitigation marker ‘maybe’. starting with ‘so’. remaining silent for 0. If she disaffiliates with the identity. which invalidates the other participant’s expectation of her as a particular category of a person (i. which seems to suggest ‘so I don’t know whether or not the method is easy to use’. These actions indicate that they are still waiting for Fujino’s response. Asano then acknowledges Murata’s position in the subsequent turn (‘hm’ in line 513). who is supposed to be knowledgeable on the issue.181. She does not directly reject the identity of senpai. and Steensig 2011) derived from the identity. After a short silence in line 523. but rather entails the idea that a senpai is more knowledgeable than a kohai. Murata shows sympathy with Fujino by saying ‘me too’.4 Note that Asano does not merely ascribe the situated identity of senpai to Fujino. She does show that she has some knowledge. she should explain the reason(s) why she rejects the epistemic status (Heritage 2012) imposed on her by Asano’s use of senpai.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Classroom Discourse 79 (F) acknowledges Murata’s response in line 504. With his subsequent actions (i. by saying there are ‘many’ ways of synthesising that could be used by someone in the field. who are referred to as kohai (‘junior’).5 seconds in line 505. Thus.0-second long silence in line 507 and the repetition of ‘maybe’ in line 508). the distinction is not simply a matter of age. a further 2. in lines 515–516 Asano interrupts with an utterance reflecting a direct identification of Fujino as senpai (‘senior’). ‘h::m’ in line 506. By waving her hand horizontally in front of her face. In this account.

37). The segment begins with Beppu asking a discussion question to the whole class. no individual is expected to know everything.g. Asano makes relevant Fujino’s contribution to the ongoing activity. With his questions. and one of the teacher’s aims is to facilitate students’ engagement. However. a standard relational pair ‘that constitutes a locus for a set of rights and obligations concerning the activity of giving help’ (Sacks 1972a.181. senpai and kohai is a type of MCD. Their actions reflexively and interactionally (re)produce their cultural knowledge on the relevant identities.205. but moves the discussion along by nominating another student. in which Beppu (B) had prepared an article and discussion questions. After Fujino accounts for her lack of knowledge. Asano does not disaffiliate with her position. such an identification may not have obtained her account when she disaffiliated with the epistemic status. It would be possible for the teacher to select a different identification for Fujino.Downloaded by [187. but this second interaction occurred in a different session.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 80 Y. The participants were seated as in Figure 2. regardless of whether she affiliates or disaffiliates with the proposed epistemic gradient (Heritage 2012) between herself and Murata. in which she is more knowledgeable than Murata in the field of science. Contrasting a feature of Fujino’s identity with one of Murata’s. ‘maybe she understands’ in lines 515–516. there is a cultural expectation that a senpai should be more knowledgeable than a kohai. s/he becomes accountable for his/her lack of knowledge. The second segment will further illustrate how identities other than teacher and student can be useful in the ESP classroom context. Okada Segment 1 illustrates how a teacher might accomplish a task by contrasting features of students’ identities. The seating chart for Segment 2. Asano distributes turns and keeps the topical discussion going. However. The classroom activity is a discussion. Thus. When a senpai fails to be more knowledgeable than a kohai. It is in this capacity that he solicits a response from Fujino by invoking her identity as senpai. as there is no moral discrepancy if an individual person is not knowledgeable about a matter. . In Segment 1. Asano’s identity-bound predicate is to manage the interaction. Figure 2. The participants are the same as in the first segment. e. and in Japanese culture a senpai is obliged to help a kohai.

5Asano then answers Beppu’s question with a reason in lines 145–146 – he does not know because he is a sociologist. Beppu confirms this by nodding and then laughs. Asano is not expected to have specialised knowledge in the field of science.8 seconds at line 139. After a 3. pointing to him. Asano takes another turn to refer to the students as scientists (lines 148–149).205. Beppu. On seeing Beppu’s acknowledgement. Murata and Fujino. and he attempts to solicit a next speaker by looking at Ikeda (I) and the teacher Asano in line 135. pointing one by one to Ikeda.Classroom Discourse 81 Downloaded by [187. This identification contrasts sharply with Asano’s sociologist and . By referring to himself as a sociologist. the direct identification of sociologist accounts for Asano’s legitimate epistemic inferiority. In other words. Asano notices Beppu’s gaze and asks for clarification as to whether Beppu is asking the question of him in line 140. Asano retroactively justifies his lack of knowledge of the plants and implies that Beppu’s asking of such a question of Asano is inappropriate. and then looks at Asano for 3.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Segment 2 No one replies to Beppu’s question. thereby defending Asano’s situated identity as teacher. Beppu again glances at Ikeda.0-second silence in line 136.181.

A feature of her identity as scientist is thereby discursively co-constructed. With the words ‘so you might have come across such plants’ in line 155. and after a 0. Fujino turns to Asano in the middle of this utterance in line 156. as they were unable to provide the name of a plant that absorbs radioactive materials.181. this practice is considered a legitimate way . However. This formulation also serves to reduce the students’ obligation to know.9-second silence. In the turn immediately following Fujino’s utterance in line 161. thereby leaving room for the students to declare their lapse of knowledge on the particular scientific topic. Okada refreshes the participants’ relationships in terms of the epistemic responsibilities derived from their identities: scientists are supposed to have epistemic primacy over sociologists in the domain of science. allocating a turn to Ikeda by pointing to him in line 167. Asano takes a turn and nominates Murata as a next speaker (line 170). Beppu acknowledges Ikeda’s response in the next turn (line 169). dodging epistemic responsibility by identifying himself as a sociologist while demanding a response from the students. Beppu shows an understanding of Asano’s utterance in the next turn with ‘hm’ in line 150. Asano explicitly makes relevant the students’ epistemic status concerning a scientific topic. Although the students’ contributions to the discussion were unhelpful in terms of content. remaining silent for 1. they could at least verbalise their answers to a discussion question as scientists.4-second pause at line 157 she confesses that even she did not know that the sunflower absorbs radioactive materials. Beppu does not offer any further uptake. Ikeda takes a turn and apologises for his lack of knowledge. This lack of feedback might be due to the low volume of the last part of Fujino’s utterance (‘sorry I don’t know any’) – Beppu may not have heard it.205. As in the case of Fujino above. In this second segment. Ikeda’s apology reflects his orientation to his offending the cultural expectation derived from his identity as scientist. In lines 158–160 she apologises for her lack of knowledge. and Beppu firmly acknowledges Asano’s clarification by nodding twice (line 166). Reflexively. the teacher contrasted the participants’ situated identities other than teacher and student by formulating himself as a sociologist and the students as scientists.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 82 Y. Asano’s lengthy silence in lines 151–154 seems to indicate that he is awaiting a response from one of the scientists to Beppu’s question.4 seconds (line 164). Asano then further clarifies Fujino’s answer by adding an object noun phrase (‘any of such plants’ in line 165).or herself as the next speaker. but no scientist offers one. Asano then moves on to a further action. However. after Beppu’s second inhalation and a 1. Furthermore. while mitigating their status by the use of the epistemic mitigation marker ‘might’. However. it constructs Asano as someone who is not in a position to have any firm assumption about what these student scientists should know. Beppu offers no reaction but looks at Asano and Fujino. and no one attempts to nominate him.Downloaded by [187. since he himself did not proffer any plant name. the phrase ‘coming across X’ characterises X as something one encounters accidentally. Beppu’s audible inhalation in this turn seems to indicate his orientation to holding a turn.6 The act of apologising displays Fujino’s understanding of her epistemic responsibility as a scientist. In line 168. Beppu’s staring at Asano and Fujino leads to Asano’s repair of Fujino’s response for Beppu (‘so she doesn’t know’ in line 162) and Beppu recognises Fujino’s response by nodding in the next turn in line 163. The teacher may be regarded as somewhat inept. rather than seeking it out purposefully. That formulation achieved the pedagogical task of facilitating a student’s participation in an ongoing discussion activity.

the target language. Contrary to concerns among language teachers about orientation toward identities. the students themselves accepted the teacher’s identity as a sociologist. Such a practice creates an IRE/F three-turn sequence. However. and the present study shows how students’ expertise . In this ESP classroom. through performing the situated identity of scientist. Discussion and conclusions The teacher in the two segments analysed here apparently did not hesitate to employ the students’ and his own identities other than teacher and students. the teacher can provide the required knowledge and check whether or not the students have gained it by asking a ‘known answer question’ or ‘display question’ (see Lee 2006. Furthermore. The present data show that the teacher’s and students’ identities other than teacher and student were a useful resource for the teacher to perform the predicates associated with his role of teacher in this ESP classroom. the teacher used such identities effectively in doing his job. This contrasts sharply with teachers’ concerns about such use of identity reported in previous studies. In other words. the language teacher is not aiming to teach the subject of science. Macbeth 2003).196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 of teaching in an ESP course. the teacher acknowledged the students’ responses with tokens (variants of ‘hm’. Such utilisation of students as a teaching resource is recommended by ESP practitioners (Benesch 2001). each is being socialised as a scientist. Rather.e.181. These actions on the part of the language teacher show how the actions of language teachers in an ESP classroom differ from those of language teachers in an ordinary or language-focused classroom. In the ordinary language classroom. demanding that students take on the epistemic responsibility of the scientist as opposed to the sociologist should be recognised as an effective act of teaching. The difference may well stem from differences in the activities expected of language teachers in ESP and other ESL classrooms. ‘mm hm’) but did not evaluate their responses or provide feedback. the language teacher in an ESP classroom is not necessarily knowledgeable about the content of the lesson. and acted as scientists in a science discussion. In such a context. The detailed analysis of the two interactional segments from an ESP classroom revealed that the English teacher achieved certain teaching goals by contrasting his own and students’ identities. as may be the case when the specific knowledge domain is science. Most importantly. The lack of content knowledge typical of language teachers in such contexts is reflected by the preface to the teacher’s question in line 493–494 of segment 1 above: ‘I have a question’ is a typical introduction to a ‘genuine’ question asked by a less knowledgeable participant of a more knowledgeable participant. he is teaching the students how to use the target language as scientists. distributing turns and keeping the discussion going. irrespective of his/her position on the novice–expert continuum of scientist. i. The teacher does this by maintaining the interaction. the language teacher is knowledgeable about the content of the lesson. the teacher did not lose control of the classroom or bring about unpleasant results by invoking identities other than the roles of teacher and student. Both segments were organised by the teacher performing his role as an interactional pivot (Hauser 2003). Thus. This practice enabled the teacher to facilitate the students’ engagement in a discussion activity and the process of socialising them as scientists. One of the aims of such a course is to socialise students as members of a specific community.Classroom Discourse 83 Downloaded by [187.205. such as answering the question in order to convey new information to the students.

like the senpai in this data. one of the problems in developing LSP courses is the role the language teacher should or can play in the classroom. By contrasting a feature of a participant’s situated identity with a teacher’s or other student’s identity.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 84 Y. The practice may be considered a part of the teacher’s classroom interactional competence (Walsh 2006). Further studies should examine whether teachers’ use of non-default situated identities. if there is a member who is supposed to have more expertise on the subject matter. such as a specialist or a senior student. this obligates the more knowledgeable party to contribute to the ongoing topic. Long (2005) proposed that all language courses should be developed with specific purposes. The present study showed that one way to manage turn distribution in language classrooms is to contrast identities of participants to make relevant the participants’ epistemic statuses. To answer such a question. The question as to whether or not the practice of contrasting situated identities other than teacher and student can be employed without bringing any unwelcome results is beyond the scope of this study. but rather by a team consisting of a language teacher and a participant who is more knowledgeable in the subject area than the students are. If other members are constructed as kohai. Such a course will provide a more productive and learning-rich environment for the students. Sert and Walsh (2013. the teacher can impose an obligation on the identity-ascribed student to account for the proposed action (such as answering a question). as was illustrated in Segment 1. the member identified as senpai is expected to have and exhibit more expertise on the subject area. It is possible for the more knowledgeable participant to deny this obligation. irrespective of whether or not s/he affiliates or disaffiliates with the identity and its predicates. but such a norm-breaching action requires the participant to account for his/her refusal. A participant’s situated identity or role and its predicates are determined in relation to other participants’ situated identities in a given situation. The present study indicates that the language teacher can facilitate and support students’ identity-formation and socialisation process by exploiting the students’ knowledge.205. more knowledge is needed on teachers’ use of identity in a variety of language classrooms. The importance of the present study lies in its detailed description of actual classroom interactions. the findings suggest that. which should be explored further on its own right’. When one participant is referred to as a sociologist and the others as scientists in a conversation on a science domain. the scientists are supposed to be more knowledgeable than the sociologist. Okada can be incorporated in ESP teaching. it is helpful for LSP classrooms to develop the contents of the lesson through the interaction. Therefore.181. is useful for performing teaching tasks in both ordinary language classrooms and subject-specific language classrooms. Furthermore. rather than for a general purpose in a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ (19). an LSP course should be taught not solely by a language teacher. . What a senpai is supposed to do in a situation is determined by how other participants are identified within the interaction.Downloaded by [187. despite lacking expertise on the course content. However. At the same time. as well as transportable identities. 561) suggest that ‘managing turn distribution in language classrooms is … a skill [of the language teacher]. Contrasting such situated identities enables the ESP teacher to establish an epistemic gradient where epistemic statuses of the participants are positioned according to their identities.

196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Notes 1.181. Lanham. 2002. Hester. and competences’ (Hester and Eglin 1997. 2003.” Research in Language and Social Interaction 45: 1–29. C. Politics. S. Critical English for Academic Purposes: Theory. Benesch. It may be that. Language Teacher Identities: Co-constructing Discourse and Community. 2001. it is a situated identity that she is supposed to perform within the context of the university or the department in which the class is offered. MD: University Press of America. if a Japanese person is introduced as a representative of Japan at an international conference. Widdicombe. Rather. “What ESP Is and Can Be: An Introduction. Japanese is regarded as both the person’s transportable identity and situated identity.205. Hauser. MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 1985. These other predicates include ‘rights. since Asano pointed to Fujino last. 2008. D.. Clevedon Hall: Multilingual Matters. and P. Belcher. by nodding. and S. “Generalization: A Practice of Situated Categorization in Talk. Mahwah. Heritage. it is not her transportable identity. Asano’s categorical contradiction may be the cause of Beppu’s laughter. Bilmes. obligations. “Identity as an Achievement and as a Tool. Fujino interprets this as a turn allocation and takes the turn. “Corrective Recasts and Other-correction of Language Form in Interaction among Native and Nonnative Speakers of English. without concrete interactional evidence. H.” In English for Specific Purposes in Theory and Practice. it is impossible to determine whether the laughter is due to the problem. Eglin. the situated identity and the transportable identity of a participant can be one single category. or simply due to embarrassment. Lanham. Widdicombe. References Antaki. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. fulfilling the associated epistemic obligation by providing the kohai participants with an answer. Non-native Educators in English Language Teaching. specifically by Asano’s (re)action to being asked a question by Beppu. E. suggesting that they also share the understanding of the problem caused by Asano’s (re)action.” In Identities in Talk. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. E. Ikeda’s and Fujino’s laughter in lines 143 and 144 occurs almost simultaneously with Beppu’s. edited by D. M.” PhD diss. 1997. Garfinkel. Beppu’s laughter occurs after his confirmation. “Membership Categorization Analysis: An Introduction. 3. 4. that he is asking Asano to reply to his question about the plant absorbing radioactive materials. S. 1–14. 1999. knowledge. attributes. Ethnomethodology’s Program: Working Out Durkheim’s Aphorism.Classroom Discourse 85 Downloaded by [187. “‘Why That Now?’ Two Kinds of Conversational Meaning. 1–23. edited by C. 5). J. In that senpai is not a visible or audible feature of Fujino. “Epistemics in Action: Action Formation and Territories of Knowledge. Clarke. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2011. In some situations. J. Braine. 5. London: Sage. However. entitlements. 1998. . 2009. For example. it may be that Fujino is performing her identity as senpai.” Discourse Processes 8: 319–355. Asano is the teacher but his request for confirmation as to whether Beppu is asking him the question is inconsistent with his situated identity teacher.. edited by S. Hillsdale. 6.” Human Studies 3: 183–198. 1–20. 2012. and Practice. Eglin. A cross-coupling reaction in organic chemistry involves synthesising reactions of two different organics with the aid of a catalyst..” In Culture in Action: Studies in Membership Categorization Analysis. Belcher. Hauser. Antaki and S. 2. On the other hand. G. Hester and P. It may be that his laughter is triggered by an interactional problem caused by Asano. Thus. University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

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) Brief time gap = "latched" utterances [ The beginning of overlapped talk () Unintelligible stretch (( )) Transcriber comment Cut-off : Elongated sound ? Rising intonation .205.2) Time gap of about 0. Falling intonation .181.Classroom Discourse Downloaded by [187.196] at 17:31 17 March 2015 Appendix Transcription conventions (. Continuing intonation ↑ Marked rise of immediately following segment ↓ Marked fall of immediately following segment under Emphasis ££ Smiled voice °° Decreased volume >< Increased speed 87 .2 second (1) Time gap of about 1 second (.