Private turns: A student’s off-screen behaviors during synchronous online Japanese instruction


  • Satomi Suzuki Georgia Institute of Technology



Off-screen behavior, learner autonomy, distance language education, synchronous computer-mediated communication, Japanese as a foreign language, conversation analysis


Although distance language education has been widely adopted in university learning, very few researchers to date have looked at off-screen behaviors of second/foreign language learners in their physical environment while they engage in synchronous (real-time) online courses. This study, in contrast, focused on one focal student’s off-screen behaviors while she sat in front of the computer in her physical environment during university-level synchronous Japanese class. The class was mediated by audio-based conferencing software (Wimba) where class participants’ behaviors in their physical environments were not observable to others. The primary data consist of two types of video recordings that were synchronized in a picture-in-picture format: focal student’s off-screen behaviors in her private environment and archived online classes with instructor and seven classmates (~20 hours). Drawing on conversation analysis, the study showed unique characteristics of interactional norms developed by the student in her physical environment in contrast to those observed in a controlled online environment. The focal student’s off-screen behavior suggested that she gained significant affordances from the course format; namely, opportunities to freely take her private turns by vocalizing the language off-screen without being heard. The study illustrates the potential of computer-based learning to promote increased learner agency and autonomy.

Author Biography

  • Satomi Suzuki, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Satomi Suzuki received her PhD at the University of Georgia (UGA) in 2011. She is an instructor of Japanese in the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Institute of Technology. She has co-developed and taught online Japanese courses at the university since 2003. She has also taught computer-assisted language learning at the Language and Literacy Education department at UGA. Her main research interests are conversation analysis, technology-enhanced language education (particularly the role of affordances during online instruction), and pedagogical application of second language acquisition theories.


Blake, R. (2009). The use of technology for second language distance learning. The Modern Language Journal, 93(Focus Issue), 822-835. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2009.00975.x

Blake, R., & Delforge, A. (2005). Language learning at a distance: Spanish without walls [Electronic Version]. Selected papers from the 2004 NFLRC Symposium: Distance education, distributed learning and language instruction. Retrieved from /NW44/Blake.htm

Blake, R., Wilson, N. L., Cetto, M., & Pardo-Ballester, C. (2008). Measuring oral proficiency in distance, face-to-face, and blended classrooms. Language Learning & Technology, 12(3), 114-127. Retrieved from

Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Cahill, D., & Catanzaro, D. (1997). Teaching first-year Spanish on-line. CALICO Journal, 14(2), 97-114.

Chenoweth, A., & Murday, K. (2003). Measuring students learning in an online French course. CALICO Journal, 20(1), 477-497.

Chenoweth, A., Ushida, E., & Murday, K. (2006). Student learning in hybrid French and Spanish courses: An overview of language online. CALICOJournal, 24(1), 115-145. Retrieved from

Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in SLA research. The Modern Language Journal, 81(3), 285–300.doi: 10.2307/329302

Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (2007). On discourse, communication, and (some) fundamental concepts in second language acquisition research. The Modern Language Journal, 91(Focus Issue), 755-770.doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00667.x

Foster, P.,&Ohta, A. S. (2005). Negotiation for meaning and peer assistance in second language classrooms. Applied Linguistics, 26(3), 402-430.doi: 10.1093/applin/ami014

González-Lloret, M. (2011). Conversation analysis of computer-mediated communication. CALICO Journal, 28(2), 308-325.

Goodwin, M. H., & Goodwin, C. (1986). Gesture and coparticipation inthe activity of searching for a word. Semiotica,62(1-2), 51-75.

Hall, J. K. (2004). Language learning as an interactional achievement. The Modern Language Journal, 88(4), 607-611.

Hampel, R. (2003). Theoretical perspectives and new practices in audio-graphic conferencing for language learning. ReCALL 15(1), 21–36.

Hampel, R., & Hauck, M. (2004). Towards an effective use of audioconferencing in distance language courses. Language Learning & Technology, 8(1), 66-82. Retrieved from

He, A.W. (2004). CA for SLA: Arguments from the Chinese language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 88(4), 568–582. doi: 10.1111/j.0026-7902.2004.t01-19-.x

Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Heritage, J. (1997). Conversation analysis and institutional talk: Analyzing data. In D. Silverman (Ed.), Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (pp. 161-82). London:Sage.

Heritage, J. (2005). Conversation analysis and institutional talk. In K. L. Fitch & R. E. Sanders (Eds.), Handbook of language and social interaction (pp. 103-147). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Hosoda, Y. (2006). Repair and relevance of differential language expertise in second language conversations. Applied Linguistics, 27(1), 25-50.doi: 10.1093/applin/ami022

Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R. (1998).Conversation analysis: Principles, practices and applications. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Jeon-Ellis, G., Debski, R., & Wigglesworth, G. (2005). Oral interaction around computers in the project-oriented CALL classroom. Language Learning & Technology, 9(3), 121-145. Retrieved from

Kasper G. (1985). Repair in foreign language teaching.Studies in Second Language Acquisition,7(2), 200-215.doi: 10.1017/S0272263100005374

Kasper, G. (2009). Locating cognition in second language interaction and learning: Inside the skull or in public view? International Review of Applied Linguistics, 47(1), 11-36.doi: 10.1515/iral.2009.002

Kern, R. (1995). Restructuring classroom interaction with networked computers: Effects on quantity and characteristics of language production. The Modern Language Journal, 79(4), 457–476.doi: 10.2307/329999

Kitade, K. (2000). L2 learners’ discourse and SLA theories in CMC: Collaborative interaction in internet chat. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 13, 143-166.doi: 10.1076/0958-8221(200004)13:2;1-D;FT143

Kitade, K. (2008). The role of offline metalanguage talk in asynchronous computer-mediated communication. Language Learning & Technology, 12(1),64-84. Retrieved from

Lantolf, J. P. (1997). The function of language play in the acquisition of L2 Spanish. In A. Pérez-Leroux & W. R. Glass (Eds.),Contemporaryperspectives on the acquisition of Spanish(pp. 3-24). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Leahy, C. (2004). Observations in the computer room: L2 output and learner behavior. ReCALL, 16(1), 124-144.doi: 10.1017/S0958344004001016

Lee, Y. (2007). Third turn position in teacher talk: Contingency and the work of teaching. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(1),180–206.doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.02.004

Liddicoat, A. J. (2007). Introduction to conversation analysis.Continuum: London.

Markee, N. (2000). Conversation analysis.Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Mehan, H. (1985). The structure of classroom discourse. In T. A. Dijk (Ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis volume 3(pp.120-131). New York: Academic Press.

Mondada, L., & Pekarek Doehler, S. (2004). Second language acquisition as situated practice: Task accomplishment in the French second language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 88(4), 501–518.doi: 10.1111/j.0026-7902.2004.t01-15-.x

Mori, J. (2004). Negotiating sequential boundaries and learning opportunities: Acase from a Japanese classroom.The Modern Language Journal, 88(4), 536-550.doi: 10.1111/j.0026-7902.2004.t01-17-.x

Mori, J. (2007). Border crossings? Exploring the intersection of second language acquisition, conversation analysis, and foreign language pedagogy. The Modern Language Journal, 91(5) 849-862.doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00673.x

Mori, J., & Hasegawa, A. (2009). Doing being a foreign language learner in a classroom: Embodiment of cognitive states as social events. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 47(1), 65-94.doi: 10.1515/iral.2009.004

Negretti, R. (1999). Web-based activities and SLA: A conversation analysis research approach. Language Learning & Technology, 3(1), 75-87.

Ohta, A. S. (2001). Second language acquisition processes in the classroom: Learning Japanese.Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Payne, G.,& Hustler, D. (1980). Teaching the class: The practical management of a cohort. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 1(1), 49-66.doi: 10.1080/0142569800010104

Payne, J. S., & Whitney, P. J. (2002). Developing L2 oral proficiency through synchronous CMC: Output, working memory, and interlanguage development. CALICO Journal, 20(1), 7-32.

Psathas, G. (1995). Conversation analysis: The study of talk-in-interaction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50(4),696-735.doi: 10.2307/412243

Sauro, S., & Smith, B. (2010). Investigating L2 performance in text chat. Applied Linguistics, 31(4), 554-577.doi: 10.1093/applin/amq007

Schegloff, E. A. (2000). Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in Society,29(1), 1-63.doi: 10.1017/S0047404500001019

Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organizationin interaction: A primer in conversation analysis, volume 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the language classroom: A conversation analysis perspective.Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Sinclair, J., & Coulthard, M. (1975). Toward an analysis of discourse: The English used by teachers and pupils. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smith, B. (2008). Methodological hurdles in capturing CMC data: The case of the missing self-repair. Language Learning & Technology,12(1), 85-103.

Smith, B., & Gorsuch, G. J. (2004). Synchronous computer mediated communication captured by usability lab technologies: New interpretations.System, 32(4), 553-575.doi: 10.1016/j.system.2004.09.012

Strambi, A., & Bouvet, E. (2003). Flexibility and interaction at a distance: A mixed-mode environment for language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 7(3), 81-102.

Tudini, V. (2010). Online second language acquisition: Conversation analysis of online chat. London: Continuum.

van Lier, L. (2008). Agency in the classroom. In J.P. Lantolf& P.M. Eoehner (Eds.),Sociocultural theory and the teaching of second languages(pp. 163-186). London: Equinox.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and society.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17(2), 89-100.doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1976.tb00381.x

Zimmerman, D. (1998). Identity, context, interaction. In C. Antaki & S. Widdicombe (Eds.), Identities in talk(pp. 87-106). London: Sage.







How to Cite

Suzuki, S. (2013). Private turns: A student’s off-screen behaviors during synchronous online Japanese instruction. CALICO Journal, 30(3), 371-392.