The Development of L2 Interactional Competence : A Multimodal Study of Complaining in French Interactions book cover
1st Edition

The Development of L2 Interactional Competence
A Multimodal Study of Complaining in French Interactions

ISBN 9781032221168
Published November 1, 2022 by Routledge
270 Pages 87 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book presents unique insights into the development of L2 interactional competence through the lens of complaining, demonstrating how a closer study of complaining as a social activity can enhance our understanding of certain aspects of language learning with implications for future L2 research.

The volume employs a multimodal, longitudinal conversation analytic (CA) approach in its analysis of data from video-recorded interactions of several elementary and advanced L2 speakers of French as they build their interactional competence, understood as the ability to accomplish social actions and activities in the L2 in context-dependent and recipient-designed ways. Skogmyr Marian calls attention to three key dimensions of complaining in these conversations – its structural organization, the interactional resources people use when they complain, and how speakers’ shared interactional histories and changing social relationships affect complaint practices. The volume underscores the fundamentally multimodal, socially situated, and co-constructed nature of L2 interactional competence and the socialization processes involved in its development, indicating paths for new work on interactional competence and L2 research more broadly.

This book will be of appeal to students and scholars interested in second language acquisition, social interaction, and applied linguistics.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Table of Contents




1. Introduction

1.1 A praxeological research perspective

1.2 Aim and research questions

1.3 Outline of the book


2. L2 interactional competence and its development

2.1 Epistemological roots and current understanding of L2 IC

2.2 Empirical findings about the development of L2 IC

2.2.1 Developing practices for action

2.2.2 Developing linguistic resources for interaction

2.2.3 Developing interactional routines and shared interactional histories

2.3 Cumulative evidence about the development of L2 IC and research gaps


3. Complaining in (L1) interaction

3.1 Core features of complaints

3.2 Structural organization of complaints

3.2.1 Complaint initiations

3.2.2 Complaint development

3.2.3 Recipient responses to complaints

3.2.4 Complaint closings

3.3 Interactional resources for complaining

3.3.1 Verbal and linguistic resources

3.3.2 Prosodic and other non-linguistic resources

3.4 Complaining in L2 interaction

3.5 Cumulative evidence about complaining and research gaps


4. Investigating change longitudinally: Methodological concerns and data

4.1 EMCA and CA-SLA

4.2 Longitudinal CA: Research design and challenges

4.3 This study: Empirical material

4.3.1. Setting and participants

4.3.2 Recordings, supplementary material

4.3.3 Transcription and anonymization

4.3.4 Determining the analytical focus and establishing collections

4.3.5 Focal participants

4.3.6 Overview of collections

4.3.7 Comparability


5. The structural organization of L2 complaints

5.1 Interactional building blocks of indirect complaints

5.2 Moving into complaints

5.2.1 Elementary level

5.2.2 Upper-intermediate/advanced level

5.3 Co-constructing complaints

5.3.1 Elementary level

5.3.2 Upper-intermediate/advanced level

5.4 Discussion


6. Interactional resources for complaining in the L2

6.1 Negative assessments

6.1.1 Elementary level

6.1.2 Upper-intermediate/advanced level

6.1.3 Negative assessments: Quantitative comparison

6.2 Direct-reported speech and reenactments

6.2.1 Elementary level

6.2.2 Upper-intermediate/advanced level

6.2.3 Direct-reported speech and reenactments: Quantitative comparison

6.3 Discussion


7. The interactional history of a complainable

7.1 Case study 1: Suresh

7.1.1 Proffering a complaint about the heat

7.1.2 Proffering a complaint about the cold

7.1.3 Suresh: Summary and intermediate discussion

7.2 Case study 2: Malia

7.2.1 Fall semester of 2016 (months 1-3)

7.2.2 Spring semester of 2017 (months 4-9) – same coparticipants

7.2.3 Fall semester of 2017 (months 11-15) – new coparticipants

7.2.4 Malia: Summary and intermediate discussion

7.3 Discussion


8. Discussion of results and perspectives

8.1 Understanding L2 interactional competence and its development

8.1.1 Stability in the basic composition of conversational activities

8.1.2. Turn-taking management: Increased synchronization and co-construction

8.1.3 Sequence and preference organization: Diversification of methods

8.1.4 Linguistic resources for action: Diversification and routinization

8.1.5 Language and the body for action: Change in multimodal practices

8.1.6 Socialization processes in L2 learning: Shared experiences as interactional resource

8.1.7 Increased ‘success’ in the accomplishment of social activities

8.1.8 Summary of implications for understanding the development of L2 IC

8.2 Understanding complaining in interaction

8.3 Perspectives



Appendix: Transcription conventions


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Klara Skogmyr Marian completed her PhD and postdoc at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and is now assistant professor at Stockholm University, Sweden. Her research focuses primarily on L2 learning and social interaction from a conversation analytic and multimodal perspective. Her works have been published in Research on Language and Social Interaction, Frontiers in Psychology and The Modern Language Journal.


"Skogmyr Marian’s research offers us a master class in social observation. Through careful sequential analysis, she demonstrates how L2 learners’ interactional repertoires are developed and diversified, both in the moment and over time." 

Tim Greer, Kobe University, Japan

"Framed within the construct of interactional competence, this book elegantly demonstrates how to do longitudinal, second language learning-related research from the perspective of multimodal, ethnomethodological conversation analysis. Specifically, it is particularly notable for its brilliant use of emic learning behavior tracking techniques. A must-read contribution to the literature."

Numa Markee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

"This book is a double intellectual treat: a well-executed longitudinal study with enlightening findings and a thoughtful discussion of theoretical and methodological issues with far-reaching implications for future research. An in-depth exploration into the development of interactional competence in a second language, it is a stellar addition to the field."

Hanh thi Nguyen, Hawaii Pacific University, USA