Recent English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) studies have examined the linguistic features of disagreements during interactive academic tasks and casual conversations. Fewer studies, however, have explored nonverbal cues of disagreement, and even less is known about how interlocutors perceive disagreements. Therefore, using data from a corpus of ELF interaction, this study examined the verbal features and visual cues used by ELF university students to disagree during an academic discussion task. The disagreement episodes were selected through a content analysis of stimulated recall protocols in which a speaker stated that a disagreement had occurred. Transcripts were analyzed to classify the speaker’s verbal strategies as being mitigated or unmitigated. Video recordings were examined for facial expressions, body movements, and hand gestures. Findings revealed that ELF students used mitigated linguistic strategies, such as hedges, during disagreement while gaze aversion, smiling, and head nods were the most frequent nonverbal cues. The stimulated recall data showed that disagreements were perceived as an opportunity to listen, think, and share different opinions. Implications are discussed in terms of how to interpret features of disagreement in language classrooms.
Award Identifier / Grant number: 435-2019-0754
About the authors
Chen Liu is a PhD candidate in Applied Linguistics in the Department of Education at Concordia University. Her interests include task-based interaction, L2 pragmatics, and English as a lingua franca.
Kim McDonough is a Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Education Department at Concordia University. Her current research interests include the role of visual cues in task-based interaction and language development in L2 writing.
Pavel Trofimovich is Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Education Department at Concordia University. His research focuses on cognitive aspects of second language processing, second language speech learning, sociolinguistic aspects of second language acquisition, and the teaching of second language pronunciation.
Pakize Uludag is an assistant professor in the Centre for Engineering in Society at Concordia University. Her academic interests include L2 writing, language assessment and corpus linguistics.
We would like to thank the members of our research group (Tzu-Hua Chen, Rachael Lindberg, Oguzhan Tekin, Aki Tsunemoto) for their valuable insights and all the research assistants who helped with data collection and coding: Marie Apaloo, Dalia Elsayed, Sarah Ercoli, Lisa Gonzalez, Xuanji Hu, Ashley Montgomery, Jie Qiu, Quinton Stotz, Lauren Strachan, Kym Taylor Reid, Roza van Lieshout.
Research funding: This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant awarded to the second and third authors (435-2019-0754).
Appendix: Coding Framework of Nonverbal Cues
Facial expressions included smiles/laughs and raised eyebrows. If a speaker smiled or laughed continuously, then smiles/laughs was counted in each turn. For example, if a smile lasted for three turns, then it was counted as three smiles. Raised eyebrows was defined as raising both of the two eyebrows.
Gaze aversion was defined as looking up/down/side and glance away. If a gaze aversion lasted for several turns, then it was counted in each turn. For example, if a gaze aversion lasted for two turns, then it was counted as two gaze aversions.
Head movements included nods up and down, tilting to one side, and shakes left to right. If a speaker nodded continuously, it was counted as one nod.
Body movements included sitting back (i.e., moving the body backward), adjusting sitting position (e.g., moving to a new position or back to a previous position), and shrugging (i.e., raising both shoulders).
Hand gestures included iconic, metaphoric, deictic, and non-content carrying following Kong et al. (2015). Whereas iconic gestures model a shape or action, metaphoric gestures communicate abstract ideas. Deictic gestures locate objects in conversational space while non-content carrying gestures include rhythmic beating and non-identifiable movements.
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