Young children’s multimodal participation in storytelling

Analysing talk and gesture in Japanese family interaction


  • Matthew Burdelski Osaka University



conversation analysis, gesture, Japanese children, participation framework, storytelling


In what ways do young children use talk and gesture to participate in conversational storytelling with family members? This paper addresses this question by examining the interactions between Japanese-speaking children (ages one year and ten months to two years and five months) and their parents at the dining table. In focusing on children’s use of talk and gesture in inhabiting the dynamic and shifting roles of ‘recipient’ and ‘speaker’, the analysis shows how children (1) display their understanding of parents’ tellings and (2) animate the activities, social actions, and stances of characters (self and other). It also shows how parents respond to children’s talk and gesture, through practices such as alignment, assessment and repair. The findings shed light on children’s multimodal participation in conversational storytelling, and their abilities to engage in action and make relevant contributions to interaction. 

Author Biography

Matthew Burdelski, Osaka University

Matthew Burdelski is currently professor of applied Japanese linguistics at Osaka

University (formerly a visiting assistant professor at Swarthmore College). His

research focuses on Japanese and US classrooms and families, utilizing conversation

analysis and language socialization to investigate adult–child and children’s

interactions in Japanese as a first, second and heritage language. His papers

have appeared in The Handbook of Language Socialization, Language in Society

(co-authored), Linguistics and Education, Research on Language and Social

Interaction (co-authored), and Journal of Pragmatics.


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How to Cite

Burdelski, M. (2019). Young children’s multimodal participation in storytelling: Analysing talk and gesture in Japanese family interaction. Research on Children and Social Interaction, 3(1-2), 6-35.