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The language of turn and sequence


The primary site of language use is conversation. In this module you will study the organisation of conversation at the finest level of detail, both theoretically and empirically. You will be introduced to conversation analysis (CA), a data-driven method for the study of conversation and talk-in-interaction. You will learn about, and learn how to analyse, the basic mechanics of conversation, which includes 

  • turn-taking—how opportunities to speak are allocated;
  • action-sequencing—how turns at talk by successive speakers form coherent courses of action;
  • repair—how speakers resolve troubles of speaking, hearing, and understanding; and
  • preference organization—biases in practices of speaking that favor social affiliation over disaffiliation. 

 The module combines lectures that cover the core theory and key findings of CA with hands-on practical sessions in which you will develop the skills necessary to do CA, including recording conversation, transcribing data, building collections of conversational phenomena, and writing up analyses. 

 In this module you will: 

  • learn about the basic organisation of conversation;
  • learn to apply the methods of CA to recorded conversations;
  • learn to write about language use at the finest level of detail;
  • record a conversation and use it for a research project; and
  • analyse multiple conversations and build a collection of a phenomenon of interest.

 The module is the first in a trio of modules on social interaction, the others being two final year modules, Language as Action (E/L64H) and Multimodality: Language and the Body (E/L66H).


Students must have successfully completed at least ONE of:

  • L09C Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology
  • L10C Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • L11C Introduction to Syntax
  • L12C Introduction to Semantics

It is recommended that students have also completed:

  • E01C Understanding English Grammar


Contact hours

2.5 hours per week in Spring term and 1 hour per week in Summer term.

Teaching programme

The module consists of a 1-hour lecture and a 90-minute practical session each week. The lectures introduce basic terms and concepts from conversation analysis (CA) and complement assigned readings primarily from Clift (2016). The practicals give students hands-on experience with data analysis and cover basic methods used in CA research, such as data collection and transcription. Formative exercises will be distributed before some of the practicals, where the correct answers will be discussed as a group. Summer term will focus on the skills necessary to write CA research reports, including a 2-hour in-class writing session in which students will work on their reports and have an opportunity to ask the instructor specific questions about their work.

Teaching materials

  • Clift, R. (2016). Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Assessment and feedback

Formative work and feedback

  • Exercises for practical sessions
    • Feedback: correct answers will be discussed in class and students may optionally submit written answers for additional feedback.
  • Line-by-line analysis of a conversational data extract
    • Due: Week 6, Spring term
    • Length: 750 words
    • Feedback: detailed individual and collective comments by the end of Week 8.

Summative assessment and feedback

  • Submission of a recorded conversation
    • Due: Week 10, Spring term
    • Weight: 10%
  • Submission of a collection of data extracts for the data analysis project
    • Due: Week 1, Summer term
    • Weight: 10%
  • Data analysis project, on an approved topic
    • Due: Week 5, Summer term
    • Weight: 80%

About this module

  • Module name
    The language of turn and sequence
  • Course code
    E/L34I (LAN00034I)
  • Teacher 
    Kobin Kendrick
  • Term(s) taught
  • Credits