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Activity types and discourse types : mediating advice in interactions between foreign language assistants and their supervisors in schools in France and England.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2008
JournalMultilingua
Journal number4
Volume27
Number of pages28
Pages297-324
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper aims to enhance our understanding of interactions between French/English Foreign Language Assistants (FLAs) and their school mentors (MEs), and, more specifically, of how ‘advice’ is sought, given and received. More generally, it will articulate a pragmatic approach (employing the notion of ‘activity type’) that can help achieve this aim. The paper draws on a sub-set of the data produced for the Pragmatics and Intercultural Communication (PIC) project, a project which deployed multiple and different methodologies, including, for example, not only transcriptions of live interactions, but also retrospective reflections on those interactions. We focus on the first non-casual meetings between FLAs and their MEs, a crucial part of which concerns ‘advice’. We argue that advice can be viewed as a ‘discourse type’, and show how it is deployed in the context of the activity types constituted by those meetings. We conduct a detailed qualitative analysis of one audio-recording of a meeting based in England, and then compare it with one based in France, our interpretations being informed by the participants' reflections, especially those of the FLA. We also deploy quantitative analysis and explore whether the patterns identified in our case studies can be generalised. Finally, we reflect on the implications of activity types and discourse types for pragmatics research, particularly politeness theory and cross-cultural pragmatics.